“Good morning, everyone. We appreciate your attendance today at this session of Philadelphia Sports Sensitivity Training. There have been a couple of minor incidents lately that made us think it was a good time to reconvene and review some of the guidelines with you.
“As the professional athletes representing our city, you carry the flag for us. That means you should always speak appropriately about our fans, and I’m here to help you understand, establish, and maintain proper norms of language and behavior.
“We in Philadelphia believe that fans cannot fully enjoy watching their hometown teams if they are distracted by inappropriate comments from athletes. Fans have a right to watch games, boo athletes, curse at athletes, tweet vulgar comments at athletes, establish unrealistic expectations for athletes, and resent those athletes when they fail to meet those expectations without fear of having it pointed out to them that they sometimes act unreasonably themselves.
"It is our duty to eliminate such offensive comments and thoughts from our locker rooms and clubhouses. In so doing, we will create a happier environment for our fans and a more productive environment for you.
“So, how do you guard against becoming a topic on talk radio and social media? Let’s review.
“Monitor comments, jokes, and behavior in the locker room, the clubhouse, or in any situation in which one or more of your teammates are speaking with a reporter, a TV personality, a talk-show host, or an employee of TMZ.
"Those comments and jokes should never refer to a Philadelphia sports fan’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, pregnancy, or genetic information, and they should never use the following terms and phrases: ‘fair-weather,’ ‘entitled,’ ‘impatient,’ ‘hostile,’ ‘boorish,’ ‘negative atmosphere,’ ‘don’t understand how tough it is to play here,’ ‘don’t understand how athletes feel,’ ‘no one in here wants to lose,’ etc. I can provide you with the full list after the meeting if you’re interested.”
“I have a question.”
“Go ahead, Mr. Rodriguez.”
“What if you’re standing up for a teammate?”
“There’s nothing wrong with standing up for a teammate. Nothing at all. Just accentuate that he’s working hard and doing his best. Never, ever point out that he might not deserve to be booed so vociferously. You, in particular, shouldn’t point that out, Mr. Rodriguez.”
“Because you’re hitting .221 and you strike out like you’re trying to win a trophy for it. You really should just sit at your locker in silence and contemplate your utter ineptitude as a baseball player.
"Mr. Wentz, I see your hand is up.”
“Just to follow up on Sean’s question, does the status of the player matter? I mean, I’ve read about Jimmy Rollins, back in 2008. I know he used the F word …”
“The F word?”
“Yeah, ‘front-runners.’ Anyway, when he said that, he had just been named National League MVP. He had said the Phillies were the team to beat in the National League East, and then he backed it up and led them to their first division title in 14 years, and people still got fired up at him. Don’t they give anybody a break?”
“No, generally they don’t, and you shouldn’t take the chance that they’ll just smile and accept the fact that you’ve said something offensive. As a people, Philadelphia sports fans have been oppressed throughout their history, and that history weighs heavily on them, even today. They don’t have the benefit of New York privilege, and you must take that into consideration.”
“But we just won the Super Bowl in 2018!”
“Technically, Mr. Wentz, it was Mr. Foles who won the Super Bowl, and at the moment, you’re just a quarterback who we hope can match his standard. That’s how we prefer to view it. Now please take your seat before you fracture your back again.”
“I’d like to add something.”
“Go ahead, Mr. Embiid.”
“A few fans ripped me when I got sick in the playoffs. But I’ve found that playing some pickup basketball with random strangers, posting some cool stuff on Twitter, and repeatedly telling the fans that I appreciate them really helps.”
“That’s a good point. We call that technique ‘stroking.’ It’s quite effective. Let’s build on that. Whenever possible, you should mention that, as a child, you read a book about Chuck Bednarik, Bobby Clarke, Maurice Cheeks, and/or Pete Rose. Then, you should describe how the lessons you learned from that book formed your playing philosophy.
“You also want to optimize your chances for success by not engaging in the sort of offensive language that can make for a hostile working environment. So remember: No matter what sport you happen to play, whenever you’re interacting with your teammates, your coaches, or especially the public, always use the approved greeting: ‘Dallas sucks.’
“Finally, do not demean any fans. Avoid yelling when discussing them, making threats toward the people who ask you about them, or losing your temper. Any of these actions can be very hurtful. But bear in mind: It’s perfectly acceptable for the fans themselves to engage in this behavior.
" Yes, Mr. Giroux?”
“Look, I’ve been here long enough to know what the fans here are like. We have to deal with it. I get it. But I’m still confused about something. It seems like they can dish it out, but they can’t take it. There’s a word for people like that. They’re called … bullies, oddly enough. I mean, if these fans are so tough, why do we have to be so worried about offending them?”
“I’m afraid it’s time to end this session. Thank you all for coming, and remember: If you follow these guidelines closely, you’ll be sure to create a safe, comfortable space for all the passionate sports fans throughout Philadelphia, and that’s the most important thing."
“Aren’t you going to answer my question?”