Prior to the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, a rather interesting story made the rounds in the media. For some reason, the local authorities feared that fans were going to climb the light poles in the city if the Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings. To keep them from doing so– or at least make it a lot harder – the city decided to grease the poles.
Yep, they had guys go around and spread Crisco all over the city’s light poles.
As luck would have it, the Eagles didn’t just beat the Vikings, they dominated them. Just like city officials, fans took to the streets to celebrate. Some did try to climb the light poles downtown— and succeeded.
Sports fans around the country have been known to do ill-advised things like climb light poles while they celebrate their favorite team winning the big game. But since the last time a Philadelphia team won a championship was 2008 (the Phillies won the World Series) and before that 1983 (76ers won the NBA Finals), you can’t call it a common problem.
It’s highly unlikely anyone that climbed a pole in 2008 was thinking about doing it if the Eagles won the NFC Championship. Many who climbed a pole in 1983 probably wish they still could. So why were the worried about it?
Officials should have known greasing the poles wouldn’t work, anyway. After all, the South Street Italian Market Festival does feature a grease pole climbing contest.
The festival is held in late May and features an old Italian tradition called the Albero Della Cuccagna, which translates to ‘maypole tree.’ Prizes are placed at the top of a 30-foot pole that is covered in lard. If you reach the top of the pole, you get a prize.
It would be ridiculous to blame the festival, of course. But Philadelphia has the second largest Italian-American population in the country. Since it is an old Italian tradition, it stands to reason that people, especially those living in the predominantly Italian neighborhoods, would be familiar with the practice.
So, while greasing poles would stop many people, it wouldn’t stop everyone.
To be fair, that could also be why officials decided to go ahead and grease the poles. Chances are, before climbing a greased pole people practiced on a non-greased one. So, by greasing them they cut down on the potential number of climbers who have yet to master the greased pole.
But why bother trying to stop them? If they want to do it, they are going to find a way, right?
Yes, but if officials have reason to believe people are going to climb poles that they could fall out of, they should try to stop them. Not only do they risk doing serious harm to themselves, but also to who they land on.
However, it appears that Philadelphia officials are not breaking out the ‘Crisco cops’ for Super Bowl LII. No light poles will be greased this time. But they do claim to have a plan to combat the potential problem.
They just aren’t going to tell anyone what it is.