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Hell on Earth: The 9 Most Intimidating Fan Bases for Visiting Fans and Players
5. Philadelphia Phillies
In the words of Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, “Phillies fans are passionate fans. They gotta hammer people.” That they do. Though recently the fans seem to be equal opportunity offenders, vomiting on Phillies fans as often as they mock the other team. And, just as their own aren’t safe in the crowd, their own aren’t safe on the field as well, as Phillies fans have been known to heckle their own players during slumps, including legendary Phillie Mike Schmidt and 1964 ROY Richie Allen. Like their Eagles counterparts, they’ve also been known to lob batteries at opposing players, like JD Drew in 1999. (What is it with Philadelphians and batteries? Do they not have rocks in Pennsylvania?). However, not all the enthusiasm is misguided, as they are known to be among the loudest fans in the nation and chalked up 100 consecutive sellouts at Citizens Bank Park, demonstrating that while Phillies fans might be thuggish from time to time, they are loyal thugs, and that’s probably they best kind a city can have.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
Any conversation about the NFL’s best fans worth its salt will include the Chiefs faithful, who create not only the best, but among the most intimidating stadium experiences in the NFL. From the tailgate scene that starts 5 hours before kickoff (I know that this in and of itself doesn’t frighten opposing teams, but happy, drunk fans before the game are rambunctious and enthusiastic fans during the game.), to the blinding sea of red not only inside the stadium but throughout the city in the days leading up to the game, to the noise factor which regularly bestows upon the crowd the traditional “12th man” status. Despite being among the smallest markets in the NFL, KC has amassed the 2nd highest attendance in the entire NFL, a truly impressive feat.
While it probably goes without referencing, there was an event six years ago that permanently etched this guys into the poor-sports hall of fame and definitely solidified their status as among the rowdiest and loudest fans in the NBA, where an aggressive loud fan base can not only impact select plays, like in the NFL with offsides, but the tempo and tone of an entire game. The event in question is now known as the Artest Melee, and it still stands as the single most iconic showdown between fans and players, with both parties breaking the infamous “fourth wall” and getting involved in each other’s affairs to a violent extent. The reputation of the Pistons fans was established well before this instance, as they closely identified with their tougher, blue-collar roots as the yen to the yang of the Los Angeles Lakers “showtime” teams of the late 80’s. Imagine thousands of Bill Laimbeers in your crowd. You get the idea.
While hardly a perennial juggernaut, the Seahawks have an ace up their sleeve in the form of acoustics and stadium design ingenuity. Don’t laugh – it matters. The Seahawks learned how to harness the power of their fans through not only the architecture (designed to reflect noise back on the field), but they also keep a running tally of false start penalties on the other team as an incentive for fans to keep the volume up during defensive stands. Among lesser crowds, this could prove to be an asset and a liability, but the Seahawk faithful know that with great power comes great responsibility, so they keep theirs mouths shut when the Hawks are moving the ball. Now that the Sonics are out of town and more focus has shifted to football, don’t expect things to let up any time in the near future. Until they find a way to create a bionic Shaun Alexander clone, they may not be contenders too soon, but they certainly wreak havoc on the visiting teams.
The argument for the inclusion of Duke on this list could begin and end with the Cameron Crazies pelting twinkies at the Rubenesque big man for Michigan, Robert “Tractor” Traylor, and I wish it would. It would mean less writing for me. But these guys deserve more credit than that. The fact that the vast majority of attendees at college basketball games are students means that they don’t have jobs or families or other petty bullshit to worry about, so they spend their needs gleaning knowledge about an opposing player’s low GPA or SAT scores. They then disseminate that information among the entire crowd so that the guy from UNC who got caught cheating on his Spanish 213 paper last week is going to hear about it from every fan at the end of the court every time he steps up to the stripe. Factor in a minuscule stadium and it’s like being enveloped in a cloud of gnats. Tiny, entitled, pompous gnats. Not fun.