GAME ON! – MAY 13
By Rob Kriete
First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.
Let me take a moment to introduce Rob Kriete.  He is the new Senior Writer for Its Sports Magazine and will be producing a weekly column along with other sports-related posts for your reading pleasure.
I hope you’ll appreciate his unique brand of commentary as you read his initial installment below.  In fact, let me change that to I know you’ll look forward to GAME ON! every Wednesday as well as his other offerings.  Make that a staple of HUMP DAY activities.
On quick statement, from my end, to help our readers.  The “Mothers Streetlight Rule” wasn’t just confided to Brooklyn.  It was also a fixture in Jersey, and probably other areas of the United States.  The results were all the same and that was woe to the individual who didn’t follow it to the letter.
That’s the voice of experience talking there.  Trust me, having a “warmed bottom” as the consequence for being late weren’t fond memories.  In fact, I still shutter just thinking about them and, yes, it was plural and not singular.
So, without further adieu, let’s find out about Rob in his first installment of GAME ON!  Enjoy.

“Game on!” would be the ubiquitous catchphrase we would emphatically shout to each other once traffic would pass.  We would all proclaim it when we could get back to our fun.   “Game on” meant we could commence with our game of street basketball, or wiffleball, or two-hand-touch, or whatever we could play in the streets of Brooklyn.  Growing up in Canarsie, I got to play, and learn about every sport or game on the streets of our South Brooklyn neighborhood.  (Until, of course, the streetlights illuminated.  Every mother in Brooklyn expected their kids to come home once those streetlights came on.)

Tampa, the best big city with a small-town feel, became my home in 1990 when I began my college career at the University of South Florida.  While USF prepared me to become the best public school educator I could be, I would attend Bulls basketball games at the Sun Dome and still have my BullBlast T-shirt for 1993!  Those teams from the early 1990’s even qualified for the NCAA tournament a time or two.  USF football kicked off in 1997, and I got to experience their inaugural game and enjoy a blowout, 80-3 victory. Go Bulls!

Immediately after my migration south, I became a regular at Tampa Stadium on football Sundays, sitting in the raucous end zone “seats” of that old coliseum while becoming a fervent Buccaneer fan.  (They were called seats, but they were benches, and fellow fans would consume my spot on the bench upon any trip to a concession stand or bathroom.)  Then, the Buccaneers’ move to Raymond James Stadium coincided with a new era of winning football in Tampa, and I was fortunate enough to be a season-ticket holder throughout, getting to see the best defense short of the 85 Bears each week.  The Tom Brady era is creating a similar buzz in Tampa Bay, albeit with a pretty-good-on-paper offense.  Go Bucs!
Baseball, the unique American pastime, has always been my therapy.  I have kept very few things from my childhood in Brooklyn, but being a Mets fan, spending many summer nights in the upper deck of Shea Stadium, remains a part of who I am as a sports fan.  (I live with a puppy named Mookie Wilson.)  But, I am a traditionalist, baseball fan at heart foremost and was a Tampa Bay Devil Rays season ticket holder during their 1998 inaugural year.  The energy of Tropicana Field when Wilson Alvarez threw that first pitch for the Rays organization is a baseball moment that I will never forget.  Go Rays!
Seeing NHL hockey in the cozy confines of the Florida State Fairgrounds was remarkable when the Lightning began playing hockey in 1992.  The greatest live sport, played at the highest level, being played in a large quasi-gymnasium, was what made me an authentic NHL and Tampa Bay Lightning fan.  Before it was Tropicana Field, the Suncoast Dome was named the Thunderdome (sans Tina Turner) that served as a brief home for our Bolts as they made the playoffs for the first time.  Although a lot less intimate than the Fairgrounds, the Lightning teams that played in St. Pete showed us all the great hockey fans that exist throughout Tampa.  The Stanley Cup of 2004 and the current squad makes me a super proud Lightning fan. Go Bolts!
I wanted to briefly share my sports “fandom” as I hope you will access my column every Wednesday here at ItsSportsMag.com.  Please share your thoughts. Please remain safe while we bide our time until we can all go outside and shout, emphatically, “GAME ON!”