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A Tampa Bay Sports Girl's Creed

The rules one passionate chick lives by when supporting her favorite teams.

ST. PETERSBURG - JUNE 13:  Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays cheer on their team against the Florida Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 13, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG - JUNE 13: Fans of the Tampa Bay Rays cheer on their team against the Florida Marlins during the game at Tropicana Field on June 13, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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I love sports. Passionately. Have for as long as I can remember. I was around it growing up – both my dad and brother played baseball and my parents have had season tickets for Gator football games since before I was born – and rather than ignore it, as many of my childhood girl friends did, I embraced it.

After so many years of being a fan (and no, I’m not going to tell you how many) I’ve become pretty set in my ways when it comes to how I look at sports in general.

With the baseball pennant races heating up (although we all know the really important one is the AL East) and football season upon us, I’ve been thinking about this business of being a fan. Social media and the like has made cheering for one’s team a group affair – there are many nights when being on Twitter, live tweeting a Rays game is akin to hanging at a sports bar, albeit in your pajamas. Please. You know you do it too.

Here’s my take on being a sports fan, both as a chick and a social media denizen extraordinaire.

  • I am a fan of the game. Period. Then, now and forever.

I’ve been watching baseball for as long as I can remember – Saturday afternoons were all about the MLB Game of the Week on NBC with Joe Garagiola. Weekday evenings were spent with my tuchus on a piece of rough wood bleacher watching my brother play ball and my dad coaching his team.

And football -- ah, football. Some of my earliest memories are lying on the floor of the living room listening to Otis Boggs call a game on the Gator Football Radio Network. My ‘rents bought the family season tickets to the Buccaneers inaugural season at the Big Sombrero. I’m still a Bucs fan to this day, even after witnessing that first hand – if that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is. Still have a soft spot for Ricky Bell (RIP), Donald Igwebuike and Dave Moore.

  • I will always have a passionate opinion about my team:

"They’re wonderful!"

"They suck!"

"They’re great!"

"They’re awful!"

"Amazing!"

"Damn, they suck!"

These opinions will be spewed forth fast and furiously and quite often in the span of a week, a three/four game series, a day or even a quarter. I’m a chick. It’s my right to chance my mind. Yeah, that’s right. I pulled the chick card. Nyah.

  • I’m going to defend my team’s players – through stupid comments and insufferable attitude and bad behavior. Most of the time, anyway. That’s just how I roll. Love my team, love its players. Regardless. Usually.

For instance, if the rumor/wishful thinking that one Manny Ramirez might be wearing a Rays uniform sooner rather than later comes to truth, I shall welcome him with open arms and will roll with Manny being Manny.

However, once a player that dabbles in the aforementioned asshattery is no longer a member of my team, he is pretty much Dead To Me and his tacky actions, which I previously ignored or overlooked, become abhorrent.

See Spurrier, Steve as a classic example of this. He’s a Jackass. He even kind of owns it. But once upon a time, he was My Jackass. And it was OK. His antics and arrogance didn’t bother me one whit. I embraced it. Then he wasn’t part of My Team anymore. Now he’s Dead to Me AND a Jackass.

Told you it was all about the team for me.

  • My prerogative: As a fan, I get to criticize and lambast and bemoan the fate and play of my team. My heart’s with them – nothing wrong with a little tough love and constructive criticism. It’s rather like a catharsis for me to administer some well-thought-out analysis, good or bad.

However, when anyone else opens their big trap to criticize or lambast or bemoan the fate or play of my team; pffft. Not cool. I don't take kindly to mocking by other fans from other teams. When leaving the Trop recently after a heartbreaking loss suffered by the Rays at the hands of the Yankees, the New York fans were merciless with their taunts and arrogant bravado. Really hacked me off -- still does. After some thought, it occurred to me that if the Rays weren't a threat to the Yankees, those clowns wouldn't have been so passionate with their retorts. A backhanded compliment if you will. Still obnoxious, though.

Even worse: I really don’t appreciate being mocked or taunted or goaded about my team and their standing, success or otherwise. Don’t do it to get a rise out of me – unless you want to fall into the 'Dead To Me' category. I take my sports teams very seriously – thinking it’s "funny" to mess with me about them is the fastest way to end up on my Very Bad Side.

Worst of all: Being told by a fellow fan of my team to "stop being negative" or "I only want to hear positive talk about the team." Grrrrrrr. I don’t cotton well to being told how to do anything, much less how to cheer or comment. I never comment without being thoughtful with my words. Y’all do your thing I’ll do mine – and we’ll meet in the middle at Ferg’s for a beer when it’s all said and done. K?

  • Let’s be honest: try as I might, there’s no way I can be objective or impartial or benevolent with a wrong call when it comes to my team.

Yeah – that ump really does need glasses if he thought that pitch was a ball. Please – Carl Crawford was SAFE by a mile, dude. And there’s NO way my favorite rookie Gerald McCoy was holding on that play, ref. When I love, I love unconditionally and with a biased, affectionate eye.

Suck it, ump.

  • Embedded in the fiber of my being and the foundation of my soul, there lies a well-bred, genteel Southern lady who was taught not to say unkind things about anyone (at least in the presence of those to whom she would be referring).

However – that engrained character trait goes out the window when it comes to the main rivals of my team – specifically the Red Sox and the Yankees. I loathe them. Despise them. Would even go so far as to say I hate them. I heckle their players whenever they appear on the telly, even if just in a commercial. I would root for the Devil himself in a three game stand at Fenway.

Once upon a time, the Bucs had such rivals – the Philadelphia Eagles come immediately to mind. Not so much at the moment, at least from my perspective. A team needs to be consistently competitive to cultivate rivals. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll have names to add to my NFL Loathe List.

  • I am a true, through and through sports-loving girl.

Let's emphasize that "girl" thing for a moment... while I'm going to appreciate the game and the stats and all the things my fellow testosterone-laden fans do, my estrogenical sensibilities are going to come shining through. And I'm going to make comments that reflect that. Like "nice tuchus" or "damn, he's hot" or "Hit the ball long and hard, sweetie." I spent several years in the mid '80s following the Los Angeles Dodgers simply because I was in love with Steve Sax and his outstanding posterior. Don’t get me started on John Lynch. My fellow females know exactly what I’m talking about here. Rowr.

I'm a girl. It's what I do. Blame it on the genetics.

So there you are – My Sports Fan's Creed.

Your mileage, as always, may vary.

And I’ll see you in the cheap seats. First dog and draught are on me.

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.