1983 was a good year for Philadelphia and an even better year for Philadelphia sports.
The Flyers made the playoffs.
The Phillies went to the World Series.
The Sixers won the NBA championship.
So why, in a town where it seems that sports were born, have we been denied the reward of a championship since 1983?
In 1984, Philadelphia began construction on what would become its tallest building: One Liberty Plaza.
And thus began the formation of a dark cloud that would hover over Philadelphia sports for almost twenty years.
Philadelphia is a huge sports city, with boisterous, ravenous fans that live and die for their home team’s colors.
We are some of the most dedicated fans in the nation – and we pride ourselves on that.
Never mind any bad reputations of our owners, players, fans or teams – we love our sports.
Yet almost 20 years have passed since our last parade down Broad Street.
Year after year, Philadelphia fans have endured heartbreaks straight from the pages of a Shakespearean tragedy.
It seems that for all of our grief, the God of Sports has rewarded his humble, sports-worshipping Philadelphians with, well, more grief.
The Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985 and 1987, but lost.
The Phillies made it to the World Series in 1993, but lost.
The Flyers made yet another run for the cup in 1997, but were swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings.
The Sixers returned to the NBA Finals in the 2000-2001 season after an 18-year absence, but lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure, there have been playoff berths for the Sixers, the Flyers and the Eagles in between, but all were fruitless in their quest for a championship.
Come to think of it, since 1983 the closest Philadelphia has to come to witnessing a championship was when wrestling star Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock in the WWE Championship at the First Union Center in 1999.
It is a common belief in Philadelphia folklore that all this sports failure, all this angst and headache, could have been avoided if not for one thing: One Liberty Plaza.
Since the plaza’s construction began in 1984, Philadelphia has not won a single championship, not in any of its four major sports.
One could argue that Philadelphia doesn’t win because it has cheap owners who refuse to spend money on premiere talent.
One could argue that our teams simply can’t contend with the dynasties, whose salary caps are never-ending and whose talent is untouchable, that now run rampant in the leagues.
But all of this may have been avoided, if we didn’t go over Billy Penn’s head.
You see, City Hall was once the tallest building in Philadelphia, and sitting atop City Hall is a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn.
A gentlemen’s agreement decreed that no building in Philadelphia would exceed the statue’s head, thus keeping William Penn the dominant figure of our skyline. One Liberty Plaza was the first to break that agreement.
In the days where William Penn stood taller than the city’s highest building, Philadelphia was a winner.
Now, we live in a drought that makes the Sahara Desert feel like a reservoir.
Some people aren’t superstitious enough to buy this notion, but who needs superstition when you have facts.
Before the gentlemen’s contract was broken, before we built over our founder’s head, Philadelphia won championships.
Since then, we have not.
You can call it a jinx; you can call it bad luck.
You can call it cheap ownership or poor talent.
Just don’t call it William Penn’s fault.
Tim Wiseley can reached at Temple_News@hotmail.com