By: Bard Scott II
Captain - Buccaholics Michigan
I thought I was alone...
I get asked all the time, why the Bucs? Why root for a team from a place you have never lived? Is your family from there? Are your parents fans of the team? Why not pick a more successful team?
I have answered the questions so many times that I answer now with little to no thought. I like the Bucs because of Warrick Dunn. I was always an undersized player when I played, and loved seeing someone like him doing the things he did in a game designed for him to not be successful.
No, I’ve never lived in Tampa, or even in Florida. No, I don’t have family members that are fans that showed me the way. I became a fan basically by chance. I do not pick a “more successful team” because that just isn’t how I’m built.
Being a fan of an “out-of-market” team or a “displaced fan” is not at all the path of least resistance. You are constantly questioned, second-guessed, and made to feel inferior. This isn’t only by fans in your area who are miffed that you dare go against the home-town team, but sometimes even local fans of your team will tell you your opinion doesn’t matter because you dare root for a team outside of your geographical area. On any number of Bucs pages or message boards where my location is visible or shared I’ve been told to “go root for the Lions” more times than I care to think about.
Call me crazy, but I don't feel like being a fan of the Bucs makes me “less of a fan” because I happen to be born and raised in the state of Michigan. I think it makes my commitment to my favorite team (and all other fans like me) all the more commendable. We don't have the luxury of looking around and seeing people like us. We don’t have our decision of being die-hards constantly reinforced by other people who feel the same way we do. This doesn’t make us clam up and go away. It doesn’t make us quiet. It makes us MORE die-hard. It makes us dig in our heels even deeper on our fandom. It makes us infinitely more excited when we find like-minded people who are just as insane as we are.
This is where the Buccaholics enter the conversation. My fellow displaced sons and daughters of Raymond James Stadium that gather together all over the country (and the world!) on game day Sundays. Cheering louder than anyone else and fully decked out in red, pewter, and orange. We notice the looks we get from “local” fans who are probably trying to watch the hometown team, but we don’t care. In that place and time we are in our element. We are at the game. For home games we transform living rooms, sports bars, and back yards into small versions of RayJay. We will not be silenced and we will not be ignored. And with our brothers and sisters next to us, whether it be just a handful or dozens, feel the same way that we do. We find comfort in that shared frenzy. For many of us we thought “we were the only one”. That there were no other fans around us that feel the way we do. So now that we have a Fan Family, we are at peace. We have people who live and die with every snap of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just like we do. We don’t feel self-conscious or alone. There is strength in numbers and we are over 17,000 strong. No one can tell us we’re wrong when we can look around and see that we have an army around us. We are the jersey donning, face-paint and mask wearing, big-ass chain dangling family and you can either get on the train or get run over by it.
It’s just a great feeling to know there are others like me. Without the Buccaholics I may have never known that. To my fellow captains and members, thank you for accepting me and everyone else like me and giving us a home base. A place where we can be ourselves and cheer loudly and without shame for our world champion Buccaneers.
“I thought I was alone” might as well be an unofficial motto for my fan family. But as it turns out, we are not alone. We are many, we are strong, we are champions, and we will NEVER jump ship.
Thank you for reading. I plan to do these on a monthly basis for the time being. If there's a topic you'd like my take on. Drop me a line on facebook or at email@example.com. As always, Go Bucs!