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Home Sweet Dome

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On November 5th of 2006, I remembered sitting in section 132, row F, seat 8 in the Raymond James Stadium, the home base of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If someone was flying a plane above the stadium that day, they would see a sea of red and white. If you looked closely, you would see a microdot of black and gold. That would have been my family…
In 2001, my parents decided to take a year long vacation in Orlando. Needless to say, that year long vacation extended into a ten year vacation and my family is just now transitioning back home to New Orleans. Even though we made Florida our temporary home for almost a decade, we will never, ever convert to become Buccaneers fans as long as we ever live. It is because of a day like November 5th of 2006 that made me solemnly swear never to become a Bucs fan.
The James Stadium is just like most of its fans, loud and obnoxious. The superdome can be loud and obnoxious too at times but this stadium has a life-size pirate ship that shoots a fake cannonball every time the Bucs score a touchdown. I was only 12 when I went to this game and my mom recalls me being frightened to death because I always thought the sound the cannon made was an actual bomb going off. I was just waiting to see the SWAT team arrive. The features of the stadium are not the only things that scared me. The Buccaneer fans terrified me. In the 3rd quarter of the game, Deuce McAllister scored a touchdown which put the Saints ahead by 10 points. Many drunk and hot tempered fans started to become enraged. Some fans behind us were using explicit language and my town’s pastor, who tagged along with us, asked them politely to be aware of the children around them when they talk. Well, one beer bottle thrown led to another bottle thrown. I witnessed my first NFL brawl. It was both a terrifying yet rewarding moment. The Saints won that game 31-14. We were most likely the only happy people in that stadium considering we were probably the only fans there from the winning team. You would think that angry football fans would not take their anger out on young children… Well, that is not the case in Tampa Bay. While walking to our car, drunk men yelled at me and my brothers, “You can’t swim!” and “You are going to drown!”. I found this incredibly insensitive and offensive. It had only been a year since Katrina and grown men started make sick jokes about the hurricane to children just because they lost a football game. I was so terrified that I hid behind my brothers and put my hands against my ears so I wouldn’t be able to see or hear the fans that were harassing us.
Fast forward almost exactly 5 years later to the Saints game against the Buccaneers. My family and I are seated in Section 133 of the Superdome. The atmosphere is totally different than that of Tampa Bay. We did not need a pirate ship to shoot off cannons every time that the Saints scored to spark a roar among the crowd. Fans were hollering and dancing throughout every second of the game. The people sitting in your section became your family. You did not know their name or where they came from but you high-fived each other each time the Saints got a first down or a touchdown. I have come to the conclusion that it may be impossible to be truly sad during a game at the Superdome because the atmosphere is too positively overwhelming to overcome, unless you’re a fan of the opposing team. There was only one fight in the crowd that the police had to assist with that game. And of course the person escorted out of the Superdome was a Buccaneer fan... The Saints proudly won 27-16. It was one of the most energetic NFL games I have ever experienced. Needless to say, I am glad to be back in my hometown, home of the Saints.



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This article has 8 comments. Post your own!

camlow96 said...
Jan. 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm:
If you want to see quiet respectful fans go watch tennis. Thats how football is so get over it.
 
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SanjayB said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 11:30 am:

Kelsey,

You writing is beautiful and you express your points perfectly.  The Bucs fans remind me of the Bears fans in Chicago when they beat the Saints to go to the Superbowl.  People can be so insensitive.  Keep up the great work.

Sanjay

 
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D-Mum said...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm:

Kelsey,

What a well written essay. It's hard to believe you're still in high school! Having been to football games in a lot of cities and of course, being a Saints season-ticket holder, I can certainly appreciate the distinctions you made between fans here in NOLA and elsewhere. 

You're blessed to be part of the Who Dat Nation and we're so glad to have you and your family back "home."

 
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Lestsui said...
Dec. 4, 2011 at 2:19 am:
Well done, Kelsey! You got me engaged throughout the article and it makes me think about how inconsiderate people can be!
 
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baqueg said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm:
BEAUTIFUL.
 
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momm3 said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 11:08 am:
Kelsey, I went through this in Tampa this year with my son  (six years old). Those Tampa fans were so mean and obnoxious. They were screaming "Saints Suck" all the way down the stairwell after the game in our ears.While we were in the stands the would torment my son and say he repeat this--"go tampa---Saints suck...etc Great article!
 
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Windy said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 10:47 am:

Kelsey

What a beautiful letter. I can totally relate to what you are talking about. My husband is from Florida. I will never forget the time at Christmas/New Year, we were down visiting his family in Florida and the game was on.We (the Saints) happened to be playing each other that day and I was wearing my Jersey proudly like any Saints fan would. Well needless to say, I had to be escorted out of the room for safety reason because a total verbal war started among the group, only becaus... (more »)

 
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MiamiJoe said...
Dec. 2, 2011 at 5:56 am:
Very well written Kelsey. You elaborate very clearly on what has become a  I disturbing trend at sporting events in the USA. Fans who drink seem to think they can say and do anything and it's prevalent an rialry games. I enjoy going to games where teams are not " Hated " rivals and fans get along both inside and outside the stadium.  It was wrong for a young girl to feel terrified at a football game and I'm sorry it happened to you.  Keep up the good job in you... (more »)
 
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