The passion of Philadelphia fans

Flyers fans have packed the Wells Fargo Center throughout the playoffs. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

I think we all just witnessed the biggest day in the history of Philadelphia sports.

By "biggest," I don't mean most momentous. Instead, the definition is far more utilitarian -- butts in chairs. And here is the number:


Has Philadelphia ever had a bigger day?

Call the roll: 48,531 (Penn Relays), 45,598 (Phillies), 19,641 (Flyers), 18,279 (Union). The Relays are uniquely American as an event, and with the most culturally and racially diverse fan base in the nation. It is perfect that they are included here, because the entire day speaks to the diversity of sporting interests that currently occupies this fan base.

I imagne there might have been Saturdays where, if you added up everyone who attended a high school football game, the number reached past 132,049. This is not to denigrate that interest. Instead, this is merely to recognize, and maybe to celebrate, a number that very, very few places could possibly exceed.

Sometimes we take it for granted; I know, I do. But I make a living off of that number. My professional existence is dependent upon that kind of interest. And while we have used all manner of measuring sticks over the years to chart that passion, good and bad -- from decibels to arrest totals -- this is as simple and as meaningful a measure as any.

Again: 132,049.

Pure passion.