By Renee Lisbon, Features Editor
When it comes to winning in a sport, people think it is all about the title. While that may be true, people tend to overlook the aspect of what comes with winning. Winning a championship in a sport not only brings pride and financial recognition to the team’s organization, but also to the city that the team is representing. Tampa Bay sports is one of the prime examples and reasons why Tampa is now named the best city in Florida, topping Miami, and the 22nd best city in the country.
There are many reasons to admire Tampa, Florida. The beaches, skylines, and boardwalks are all home to the two title championships. In 2021, the Lightning won the NHL Stanley Cup championship for the second time in a row defeating the Montreal Canadiens. Their wins captivated the Buccaneers which led them to host and win the 2021 NFL Super Bowl Championships at their very own home field. On the other hand, even though the Rays did not win the MLB 2020 World Series, they bought themselves a great success on landing in the 2019 MLB playoffs and an American League East title in 2020.
A lot of Tampions, including the Mayor of Tampa, Jane Castor, are now calling Tampa Bay “Champa Bay”. Tampa’s sports success has brought in media exposure and tourism, allowing small businesses to boost and renovate the city with their sales. This includes bars hosting watch parties for the big game, hotels creating a special weekend package for tourists, and companies advertising a product affiliated with the big event.
In the midst of the pandemic, it is no shock that many businesses had to shut down, causing unemployment rates to increase. For a lot of business owners in downtown Tampa, the Bucs winning the Super Bowl was not just a title but a relief. The morning after the Bucs won the Super Bowl, many people came into local businesses, including small shops, to buy merchandise including jerseys, hats, keychains, stickers, etc., even when the products had not come in yet. Roberto Torres, the owner of Black and Denim, a clothing outfitter store in Tampa, made a statement to the Tampa Bay Times that the best thing that could have happened to him was “that the Super Bowl was in Tampa, and that our team won the game”. Even though the excitement will wear down, the future of Tampa for the next ten to fifteen years is only going to grow.
As someone who has been living in Tampa for the past five years, I was never a Tampa fan. I followed my parent’s footsteps in becoming a fan for the New York and D.C. teams, where my family and I are from. However, I would say, after seeing such success, one Tampa sport’s team that is growing on me is the Rays (sorry mom and dad, Yankees is still my number one). I know I am not the only one who is fascinated by the improvements not just from the Rays but Tampa sports as a whole. It is a bit crazy to see how much recognition they are receiving. It used to be that Tampa’s history with sports was just a national punchline. But now, with their leading championship titles, when everyone hears Tampa, they think of the thriving success from their teams and the impact on their communities.
In a city full of life and culture in a time of isolation, one of the few things that has brought everyone together is sports. In sports, it does not matter what your age, race, religion, gender, sexuality, or political affiliation are, everyone is accepted. Unless you are rooting for the enemy’s team, then you should probably take a few self-defense classes. In all seriousness though, sports have brought in joy, community, and passion. And in Tampa, they have continuously proven to the world what you can do when everyone comes together, even when coming together has not been so easy.