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Florida Guide > Other Activities



Have you heard of the book with the title along the lines of “1000 things to do before you die”? I have to confess I haven’t read it but if watching an American football match isn’t on that list then it should be.

Doing this was a vague idea of my husbands that turned into reality when we realised that we would be in Florida when there was a fixture between the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We found tickets available via an on-line ticket agency, which we could pick up from the stadium prior to the game, and decided to go for it.

We found well signposted parking near the Raymond James stadium in Tampa and this is where the experience started. It seemed that arriving with what looked like half a kitchen, your full sized BBQ, a loud music system and setting all this up at the back of your vehicle was the thing to do. The aromas as we walked through to the stadium were mouthwatering and the music and general atmosphere helped get us in the mood for a good time.

Inside the huge stadium the atmosphere again proved no disappointment. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers manage to carry their pirate theme throughout the game. Many of the fans wear multiple “booty” strings of jewels and coins around their necks, some with pirate headscarves too. At the beginning of the game there were video clips played on the big screens of a Tampa pirate ship chasing and sinking a Miami ship, to enormous cheers!! There was a huge pirate ship built at one end of the pitch and at various times during the game (usually when the Buccaneers had done something good) the canons were fired and more booty thrown out to the surrounding fans to the sound of suitably rousing pirate songs. The whole experience was immensely interesting and it made me wonder how other teams dealt with their various themes. I couldn’t imagine them being quite as good somehow, but maybe I am wrong.

There was so much to look at throughout the whole evening. I haven’t even mentioned the footballers yet. I have to say my jaw dropped and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the 82 player side appear on the pitch (yes really that many-I counted them) for their choreographed warm up, the amazing cheerleaders doing their stuff on the sidelines throughout the game, the younger schoolgirls doing a big display at the half-time interval, oh and of course the actual football game!

To be honest this really was a secondary thing for me. Despite being quite happy watching a rugby match, from which American Football is derived, I found it quite hard to concentrate on the game as it was so stop and start. I kept getting distracted looking at something else and before I knew it they had done the next bit of play and it was all stop again. This makes the match last a long time considering the amount of play, over three hours, but it’s all very enjoyable and as just about every game is a sell out lots of people obviously think it’s good entertainment. We went with our children age 9 and 7 and I wondered if they would last until the end but they did and they thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening.

All in all it was a great experience and a very friendly atmosphere with fans all mixed in together and often praising and clapping the opposing side if there was a particularly good bit of play. I would definitely recommend seeing a game if you have never been and feel it is a bit of distinctively American culture that all the family will enjoy.

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Page added on: 28 October 2006
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