We’ve spent a lot of time breaking down the life and times of the Florida Man. He is a mysterious and illusive creature that has been mythicized through years of outrageous news stories. We even got a peek into the work habits of a Florida Man when Pat Maroon visited Cigar City Brewing.
With so much written about the Florida Man, one stone remains unturned: sports. There are a lot of sports teams in Florida that have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in recent years. How does the Florida Man deal with his favorite teams?
In order to get the 411 on this aspect of the Florida Man’s life, we sat down with our Editor-in-Chief and Sunshine State native Cass Anderson. He may not have the face tattoos or pet gators, but his Florida sports cred runs deep.
What makes a Florida Man different from the average sports fan?
Cass: What sets apart Florida fans from the rest of the nation is we have this chip on our shoulder that even when our teams are fantastic, other fans might be accusing us of being bandwagon fans. I’m a born and raised Bucs fan, I’ve been a fan of the Lightning virtual my whole life, and I’ve been a fan of the Rays since they came into existence. But, I’m convinced that no one else outside of the State of Florida thinks that we exist. All fans want you to hear about their fandom, but I feel like ours comes from more of a place of proving we exist.
There’s a bit of overcompensation there of trying to prove that we actually are real, but then another element to that is you really do get a melting pot in Florida because you get a lot of people from everywhere who wake up one day in the middle of winter and they’re just like, “I’m moving to Florida. I’m so tired of the weather.”
And they go just to seek greener pastures. And so you get some extreme characters who decided that they are never wearing sleeves again. And that’s their life. So you’ve got the dude who just opts to not wear sleeves next to a perfectly normal family sandwiched between the people who flew down from Boston to watch the Rays game because it was cheaper to fly here and go to a game than it was to see one at Fenway, so it’s just a really weird group of people.
How does a Florida Man celebrate a huge sports win?
Cass: Boat parade. They pioneered the boat parade. It was partially because of COVID but it was fantastic. The Lightning did the boat parade as a way to be able to social distance outside in downtown Tampa. And then the Bucs got on it when they won the Super Bowl as well. And then the Lightning did it again when they won back-to-back cups. At the time, Florida didn’t really shut down in a way other states did, but everyone was able to get outside and party. So all you needed was a boat to get involved. It wasn’t like buying a ticket to the stadium to go see them speak. That also existed but that was very limited ticket-wise. And a lot of those tickets went to friends and family of the players, season ticket holders, and all that, but all you needed was a boat or access to a boat or a buddy with a boat and you can get down on the parade. And that’s for sure been the biggest celebration innovation in recent years.
Conversely, how does a Florida Man cope with a devastating loss or years of mediocrity?
I would say the reality is that they kind of just shut them out of their lives. It is a pretty big, fair-weather fan area of America. Prior to Tom Brady’s arrival, the Bucks were struggling to get people to show up. But that’s not to say that’s not true everywhere. If the product sucks, people aren’t gonna come to watch it. But we just have a lot of other activities in Florida to do that bring a lot of joy into our lives. So when the team is bad, we don’t necessarily have to focus on that.
What is the Florida Man’s food of choice at a sporting event, tailgate, or viewing party?
I think that would change regionally from Jacksonville to Tampa to Miami. The universal connection between them would be Pub Subs, but we would have our different pub subs across the three fan bases. And I know that they’ve even released team fanbase-specific versions. I think the go-to snack in the stadium, at least in my area, is gotta be Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion. That’s just something you’re gonna find at Lightning games. Pretty sure at the Rays and Bucs games it’s Outback. That and Cuban food in Tampa and Miami. In Jacksonville, you’re gonna get a little more Southern-style food.
Would you say that having a sunburn makes you better or worse at sports?
I’d say worse. And that just feels like something that I was kind of taught as a kid when I was playing childhood soccer. Our coach forbid us to go swimming between games, especially if we were in a tournament because he didn’t want us to be exposed to the sun too much. I personally had sun poisoning at least three times in my life and experienced devastating sunburns. Most recently when I did it, my feet got so burned that I couldn’t wear socks for three days. So, it can really mess you up if that sunburn goes too far, but that’s also ’cause I’m super fair-skinned. If you’re someone who is more tan, you might wanna be in a position where having enough of a base tan and not getting sunburn could be advantageous.
Besides beating the heat, why do Florida fans insist on watching sports from a pool, hot tub, or pickup truck filled with water?
It’s that we can. I think part of that is just showing the world that we have that lifestyle. I have a swivel on my outdoor TV and I watch from my pool. It’s a fantastic experience. It’s typically too hot to do that for the first two months of the NFL season, then it just gets perfect.
Is the myth behind the Florida Man accurate?
This mythological character is just overblown because news about the most eccentric characters can be covered so freely, whereas there are crazy people everywhere. There’s something about being closer to the equator and the heat that does it to southern Texas, SoCal, and Hawaii, but Florida stories get magnified, so our crazy comes out a lot more.
Regardless of where and how you watch sports, be sure to enjoy the game with an ice-cold Florida Man Double IPA from Cigar City Brewing. Click below to find a case!