I was in Nashville this weekend for the NHL Stadium Series game between the Predators and Lightning. It was such a cool event and an awesome environment all day on Broadway and inside Nissan Stadium. I had a blast.
There were definitely more Lightning fans than I expected — which makes sense in hindsight, who wouldn't want to go to Nashville for a weekend to watch your two-time defending Stanley Cup champion team play in its first outdoor game — and some of them seemed great. But on the whole, I came away with an impression of Tampa fans which I wouldn't have ever imagined I'd have prior to Saturday night: these people are assholes.
It started with a call and response of "Tampa!" and "Bay!" at every bar on Broadway all afternoon, which while the most rudimentary chant possible, was fine enough. On the pedestrian bridge into Nissan Stadium was when I noticed things starting to get more hostile, but still not too bad. Once the game started and the Lightning took a 3-1 lead, though, all bets were off.
I'm not even mad about Tampa fans being assholes — I assume most of them are University of Florida fans and I expect that from them. I'm mad that they're ungrateful.
The Lightning lucked into one of the greatest five-year runs of draft picks in the history of professional sports and it's resulted in two straight Stanley Cups. The Bucs won a Super Bowl barely a year ago. The Rays were in the 2020 World Series and are a threat in the American League every season despite spending no money and having none of these front-running fans show up to their games. What are y'all so mad about? Can't we all just be friends and enjoy each other's fellowship for one day?
I didn't want to hate Lightning fans. I had no idea there were that many Lightning fans to hate until the other day, honestly. But I suppose it's always the ones you least suspect.
Maybe I just ran into some of the wrong people after some beverages had been flowing. I'm sure some of the residents of West Florida are lovely. All I'm saying is y'all live on the beach and have teams which have enjoyed a run of unprecedented success in recent years. Smile.