Let’s get one thing very straight…I am not a sports fan.
I sort of want to blame my father for my overall lack of interest even though he actually loves sports. I know, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday and I do wish him a very happy one, but as a child, if there was a University of Michigan football game that conflicted with a special event there was a lot of discussion about whether he would be there.
I may never live down the fact that I decided to get married to my first husband on the day of the Michigan-Ohio State football game in November 1988. My mother, the ever so smart woman that she was, threw my father a tailgate party at the hotel where all of our guests were staying in lieu of him possibly following through on the idea of chartering a plane to go to the game in Columbus and thinking he could still make it back in time for the wedding. So much for the day being all about me.
He was also very involved for many years in our community’s Little League…VERY INVOLVED !
And if there was a sporting event on Sunday afternoon that ran late, we couldn’t go out to dinner until it was over.
Side note: My mom had a general rule about the kitchen being closed most Sunday nights..have I mentioned she was really smart?
Don’t get me wrong, my father did a lot of stuff with us as kids and until we became teenagers with the typical teenage angst and attitudes, he set aside at least one afternoon a month to take me and my siblings separately to an activity of our choice. We joke about his sports’ obsessions now, however, at the time I really didn’t get it. It’s amazing what years of therapy can do to help, right?
So call me crazy but…I resented sports by the age of 6. I suppose it also didn’t help that I was not the most coordinated child and still have terrible depth perception. I blame that on being born cross-eyed and to all the boys that teased me about it in elementary school, sorry if karma has paid you a visit but you kind of brought it on yourselves.
Yeah, sports weren’t, aren’t and probably never will be my thing.
Well, that’s not 100% true but I will get to that in a minute.
It is true that I don’t like watching sports and I really don’t understand most of the rules.
I mentioned in a recent blog my inability after 14 years of watching my son play soccer both at school and on competitive teams that I still don’t know how to tell when a player is off sides.
I think baseball is like watching paint dry…
I have no clue where the puck is through most of a hockey game…
I don’t get spending 4 or 5 hours trying to put a little ball in 18 holes or watching a car go round and round a track (I do, however, think horse racing is beautiful and my friend Laura will appreciate me saying that especially since today is her birthday)…
I don’t like the idea that a lot of athletes use their status to feel entitled or it gives them the right to be above common decency and the law…
And I will never be able to justify in my head why athletes make more than teachers and nurses.
All that being said, I live in Tampa Bay and all three of the major sports teams…Lightning, Buccaneers and Rays…work very hard these days at raising the profile of our region especially when you have them involved in initiatives like Give And Grub, a fantastic non-profit food truck with a mission to fight hunger.
When I moved here almost 20 years ago, the Bucs were by no means a winning team (ok, no need to talk about whether or not they have been the past few years), the Lightning were toddlers (the franchise was only 3 years old although holding their own by making it to the playoffs in 1996) and the Rays were still just a twinkle in some soon to be owner’s eyes (their first season was 1998).
This was not a diehard sports town/region…yet.
Slowly but surely, Tampa Bay has put itself on the map as a legitimate place for fans to be, well, fans. And after watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals over the past several weeks unfold in the national spotlight, it does seem they are finally taking us seriously.
Yes, I said us.
I watched more minutes of hockey in the past month or so than I previously watched in my entire life. I grew up in Detroit and lived in New York for many years so I know about hockey towns. I just went and read a book when my father or now ex-husband were watching a particular game.
Another side note: My first date with the ex? A U of M – Notre Dame hockey game. Yeah, it was a sign, I know.
I’m thinking the biggest reason I willingly sat through all of the recent games was because I understand now more than ever how important it all is to the future of the place I now call home. Before I owned my baked goods company for the years I did and now work as the Director of Strategic Relationships for OJ Mortgage, I guess I wasn’t really invested in Tampa Bay. I volunteered at my kids’ schools and engaged in a lot of fundraising for our local Jewish Community Center but I would be kidding myself if I said any of that helped the overall region grow.
Truth be told, I never thought I was here for the long haul. When my first husband moved us here in 1995, I thought we’d stay 10 years tops. After he made the money he thought he would in Real Estate development, I figured we would move to Northern California and open a cute little bed and breakfast where I would cook fabulous food with local ingredients and he would manage the finances and wine cellar.
I think I still cook fabulous food, do a pretty good job at managing the finances in my second marriage and keep enough wine on hand should a group of friends come for dinner at the last minute. But it is unlikely I will ever own a B&B in Napa or Sonoma. It’s all good, though, I have plenty of other dreams to work on.
As I watched the final minutes of Game 6 the other night knowing the Chicago Black Hawks were likely going to win 2-0 and claim the Stanley Cup title, I also watched Tampa Bay’s pride swell on social media. “Great effort”, “Intense series”, “Way to go Bolts”, “Here’s to next season”, “Always The Thunder” and many other very positive comments filled my news feed.
There didn’t seem to be any bitterness or blame. I’m guessing it’s because we still won a lot of recognition and credibility, that is, with the exception it seems from Suntrust Bank that didn’t feel it was necessary to light up the top of their very prominent downtown building in Lightning colors during the games.
Topher Morrison is the Managing Director of Key Person of Influence USA and definitely understands a thing or two about raising your profile in your community and, more importantly, supporting your community. Kudos to him for displaying the photo above the way he did…I am sure Sykes Enterprises appreciated the Tweet, Suntrust not so much.
My husband, of course, the fierce independent mortgage broker that he is said it’s just one more reason not to trust big banks for your mortgage needs. Gotta love the big guy for always finding his own silver lining.
And besides, who needs Suntrust when Wallet Hub recently ranked Tampa Bay as #4 in the nation for hockey fans … #GoBolts !
Sports may not be my “thing”, but a sense of community definitely is and will remain one whether I stay in Tampa Bay or not. I just needed about two decades to figure it out.
So here’s to Lightning striking, Buccaneers invading and Rays…ummmm…stinging????….again and again. And here’s to all of our communities getting bigger, stronger, better.
That’s it for now…#BlackerOut !