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Flying the colors

Sports bring out lots of interesting characteristics in people. From friendly rivalries to heated enmity. For my money, I believe college roots generate far more energetic reactions than pro loyalties. At least, that’s the sense I get when I’m flying the colors of my Florida Gators.

As we in South Florida can readily attest, most sports teams go through periods of mediocre-to-dismal play. If you’re fortunate, “your” team can have some time at the top. In rare cases, some teams get to spend a good while playing at the pinnacle.

These days, professional sports in South Florida are sagging. The Dolphins, Heat and Panthers are all in a downturn. For locals, though, they’ve seen a recent surge in the colleges of South (and mid) Florida.

While my Gators are coming off a terrible season in football (the most recent of many), the basketball team is in the top 10 and the baseball team just won the College World Series last year, so that takes the sting off.

Unquestionably, though, football holds the biggest cards in the Florida college rivalries, which means there’s grief to be received when I wear the orange and blue in any noticeable way.

And I sure do like to make it noticeable. For a lot of reasons. Here’s a few…

Life of ease

All other arguments aside, UF put me on the path that ultimately led to me retiring before the age of 50 (shout out to FAU for the accounting degree). I’m sorry, but any cause that can make that claim gets an instant promise to display their colors at every opportunity.

The colors

Bold and beautiful. Coming from a lifetime of art (both drawing and appreciating) I love bright and strong colors. That blazing blue and eye-popping orange set off any display of Gator love. Shirts, shoes, license plates, etc. Proud and pretty!

The logo

I mean, c’mon, it’s a hungry gator! I live in Florida and I’ve fished many times in the Everglades. Gators are cool. Florida Gators are cooler. Flying the Gator logo is the coolest.

The tradition

All colleges have a personal arrogance. The fans of their schools carry that out with them. In Florida, UF has the “best” arrogance – based on snarkiness (see: Steve Spurrier). UM’s is based on belligerence and FSU’s is kinda “aw shucks” homespun. The rest of the schools need a few more years of success to claim their unique “attitude”.

Over time, I’ve accumulated various trappings of my Gator loyalty. For a while, it was the most common thing I would be gifted by friends and family (and co-workers, during those bygone days).

These days, my flying the colors is more sedate. The license plate, of course. Shirts, for sure and some hats. My golf bag is pure Florida Gators and last year, my former college roommate turned me on to a huge sale on Nike Gator sneakers. Those are awesome!

Occasionally, when I’m flying the colors, someone tries to poke fun at me based on the way the Gators football team is doing these past few years. Two things keep me chuckling in the face of such “trash talk”:

– When I first went to UF, the team was 0-10-1. No one is going to be able to make me feel bad about 5-6 or 4-7. Ever.

– Being a fan of your school isn’t dependent on the team winning all the time. It’s nice. It lets you talk trash to others, but in the end, as the Beach Boys said, you’ve got to be true to your school.

So I am and so it is that you can still see me proudly flying the colors!