Florida’s Fair-weather fans
By: Jessica Bartels
I love my city. This is not an understatement; I love Tampa Bay. Sometimes when I think about some of the most memorable times of my life I know that being in Tampa made it all happen. I enjoy the theme parks. Every year I get annual passes to Busch Gardens and Adventure Island. I often visit the Lowry Park Zoo with my kids. There is a great aquarium and some nice museums in Tampa. Plus this city offers renowned educational universities. All of this is great but it is not my favorite part of Tampa. I love football. I love the Bucs.
As a kid, in my house, weekends were reserved for football. Saturday we watched college football. My aunts and uncles are alumni of UF. The Gators dominated the TV most of the day. Sundays were my favorite. I was a buccaneer fan before they went pewter. I remember my mom would cook Sunday brunch. Afterward I got dressed. I remember I had a huge orange finger and an orange and white jersey I wore every Sunday. My brother, cousins and I watched the games intently. I occasionally pretended to be a cheerleader when the Bucs scored. My mom and aunts drank beer, cooked, and watched the games as they socialized.
In 1993 my uncle Eric Hayes played for the Bucs. We watched every single game beginning to end as a family. They played 5-11. Losing the first 5 out of 6 games. In 2000 when Shaun King took over as quarterback they were 11-5. I watched all of those games too. This season the Buccaneers are 0-7. I have not missed a game yet.
I try to instill the same values in my kids that I had as a child. One of the things I have always told my children is to always support your city. Be loyal to your team always. On Sunday I had an interesting conversation with my eight year old about being loyal.
She came out with her pom-poms and sat on the living room floor in the third quarter. Innocently my daughter asks, “ Mommy who are we playing today?”
“The falcons,” I continued to stare at the TV. “They are going down!”
“What is the score?” when I did not respond she asked again.
“24 TO 10.” I heard the aggravation in my own voice when I said. “Falcons are winning”
“Mommy” she questioned “ why do we watch the game every Sunday and cheer for the Bucs if they never win? Can I cheer for another team today? Someone that is winning?”
“No,” I answered sternly. “We cheer for the Bucs because that is our team. They represent our city. Maybe if they had more support they would play better.”
I told her that Josh Freeman wasn’t playing up to par. He was performing poorly compared to when he was a rookie off the bench. He seemed to take more risks and he was able to pull them off unlike recently. I told her he was released and Mike Glennon would be taking his place. This guy is also a rookie and he may be capable of big things for our team. We have to give him a chance.
Expecting immediate results, she was disappointed when we lost the game. We talked about teamwork and how the more the team works together the better they will play. The Bucs has a decent defense with strong players like Foster, Barber, and Barron. The Bucs’ run defense is 5th in the NFL. They seem to lack the ability to score lately causing a sorry game on the Bucs side. They are averaging 13 point per game and they are 31st in the league. Let’s hope some of these rookies start making names for themselves by making some game changing plays. I would like to see Glennon, Penn, Zuttah, and Mitchell put Tampa on the map.
I had to teach my daughter a hard lesson that unfortunately most adults do not even know yet. Loyalty is important. We cheer for our city. There is not a better reason than “because I said so” when you’re a mom. In this case we support our city not only because I said so but also because it is the right thing to do. If we do not support our city who else will?