Fan is short for fanatic and fans are not known for their advanced critical-thinking skills. They operate on emotion and don't think things through. When they are wounded and vulnerable they'll lash out. Hell, they'll do anything they perceive as helpful to their favorite team's ultimate fate even though they are, in fact, not very impactful. So it's no surprise that as the Philadelphia 76ers-Miami Heat series has created an online cesspool that should be broken off and removed so the rest of us don't have to see it, some silly stuff has festered.
Namely, Sixers fans needling their counterparts for poor attendance and even worse punctuality.
It's no secret that Miami doesn't exactly pack it in by tip-off. Extremely liberal reporting standards have allowed them to claim they've sold out 497 consecutive games with a straight face even though we all have eyes. This is low-hanging fruit for other virtuous fanbases who believe they are superior fans. More supportive. More committed. More reliable when it comes to planting a butt in the seat in a timely fashion.
This is nothing new. It's a narrative that's persisted for a long time.
But should it? Because honestly, who the hell cares if FTX Arena looks like a ghost town? Especially as the Heat make worm's meat of a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia side.
Think about it. It's super weird to care about the perceived loyalty of a fanbase that isn't your own. It's weird to judge the financial decisions of others who aren't spending their hard-earned money to attend a professional sporting event. Skyrocketing prices, combined with a vastly improved television product, have changed the entire calculus of attending a game. More people are assessing the situation and deciding they'd rather save some scratch and root from afar. Yet a big game of Wallet Watching has broken out. Or a very lame game of monitoring punch cards and tattling on those who don't make it to the arena before halftime.
In this specific case, it is quite obviously a coping mechanism. Sixers fans are smart. They can evaluate the state of play and realize that no Embiid likely means no meaningful deep playoff run. And that's a realization that hurts. Hurt people lash out and try to hurt others to make themselves feel better. Ironically, counting the empty seats in someone else's house has even stronger loser energy than not drawing a crowd in the first place.
In the Heat's case, the accusations aren't even rooted in reality. Miami was fourth in attendance this year. This is what the gym looked and felt like in the second quarter. Not exactly dead and lifeless.
The Sixers are now in a position where they need to win one of the next two at their place to even force another trip to Miami. There's a very real chance Game 5 in South Beach will be the most sparsely-attended yet as NBA rules will deem it unnecessary.
So get those jokes off while you still can. Everyone grieves in their own way. Heat fans can defend their attendance if they want. But they have the great luxury of not saying anything at all and letting the results speak for themselves. Sixers supporters can post their way to a pyrrhic victory all they want. It'll only be emptier than a 7 p.m. tip.