Rumors persist that Philly may have seen its last Wing Bowl with the possible retirement of Angelo Cataldi. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Before the New England Patriots and Tom Brady cemented their legacy as possibly the greatest football team of all time in Super Bowl LI, Philadelphians everywhere enjoyed the annual tradition of gluttony and glory that is Wing Bowl.
Held every year on the Friday before the Super Bowl, Wing Bowl sees who can eat the most chicken wings in a single morning. The tradition normally involves strippers (aka Wingettes), vomiting and lots and lots of beer. The brainchild of 94 WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti, this was the 25th year of the Wing Bowl and it saw Bob “Notorius B.O.B.” Shoudt eat an astounding 409 wings in front of a sold out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
Since it began, Philly has had a love/hate relationship with Wing Bowl. Some say it is a disgusting display of excess that does nothing to enhance the image of a forward thinking city that newer residents (mostly Millennials) have tried to portray. Other say it is nothing but harmless fun that doesn’t hurt anyone and if you don’t like Wing Bowl, ignore it like everyone else.
Personally, I fall into the later category. Wing Bowl is stupid fun with no redeeming qualities but like it or not, it has become a Philly tradition. If a bunch of people want to get together, eat wings, puke and then go to strip clubs, who are we to say they can’t?
However, this year the rhetoric to bring an end to Wing Bowl was stepped up a notch. Cataldi has said repetedly that when his contract with WIP ends this year, he will likely retire. And if that happens, the feeling is that Wing Bowl will be retired with him.
We as Philadelphians can’t let that happen.
Wing Bowl has become as much a part of Super Bowl weekend in Philly as the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has become a part of the Fourth of July. No, it doesn’t really add anything to the history or culture of the city, but where else in America will you find 20,000 people willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to drink beer and watch people eat chicken wings?
But most importantly, Wing Bowl is just a lot of fun.
And in the world we currently live in, where you can lose friends because of your political stance and social media has become a ideological battleground instead of a diversion from the real world, I think we could all use an opportunity to forget about all the crap in our lives and just enjoy ourselves.
Wing Bowl provides that possibility and then some.
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It would be a real shame to see Wing Bowl come to an end just because Angelo Cataldi decides to call it a career. Cataldi hasn’t been relevant to the Philadelphia sports scene for years now and it is time for him to move on, but you can’t same the same thing about Wing Bowl.
Philly needs Wing Bowl in the same way it needs the Rocky statue, the Mummers and every other silly tradition that has become a part of the fabric of this city.
Wing Bowl may not be out proudest moment every year, but it sure is a blast to watch.