The Florida Blue Florida Classic – It’s More Than a Rivalry
This weekend, tens of thousands of people will descend upon Orlando. To visit Disney World? Nope. (Sorry, Mickey!) They’re here for the 39th Florida Blue Florida Classic. This historic rivalry between two of the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) and the Rattlers of Florida A&M University (FAMU), draws alumni and supporters from both colleges from around the country.
The gridiron rivalry between the two teams dates back to 1925. The battle for state bragging rights elevated when both BCU and FAMU joined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The matchup became officially known as the Florida Classic in 1978 and evolved into a full weekend experience. Scores of Classic-goers will start arriving in Orlando on Thursday.
The BCU-FAMU rivalry is more than an overhyped competition to determine who has the best team. In fact, one might even consider it a partnership between two schools with similar missions. Both schools originated to provide a college education to a population that other state universities would not serve. Since then, both colleges have played pivotal roles in the state’s history and can boast about alumni who have made significant achievements in a variety of fields. If you ever encounter a Wildcat or a Rattler, you’re likely to find that they know equally as much about both schools. Some of this can be attributed to their close proximity within the state. However, the primary reason for this BCU-FAMU connectional awareness is that each school’s supporters truly want to see both institutions succeed.
Plus, how many college rivalries have a trash-talking page on Facebook? The year-long, brutal back-and-forth teasing that happens here is not for the faint of heart, especially during Classic week. To an outsider, such bantering should easily lead to an old-fashioned Aaron Burr-Alexander Hamilton style duel. Be warned that if you attempt to engage and you’re not from either college, you’re likely to endure an online smackdown from most members of the group. The rule “I can talk about my family, but you can’t” is in full effect. There might be a brief jokes ceasefire when BCU and FAMU supporters come together at Classic events, but all bets are off after the final play of the game on Saturday.
This weekend, expect to see Wildcats decked out in maroon and gold and Rattlers sporting orange and green, coming together like long lost cousins to enjoy the festivities. The different colors in attire are the only clue that those attending Classic events are rooting for different teams. When BCU and FAMU meet each year, it’s more than just a rivalry. It’s a celebration of two great schools. Regardless of the outcome of the game, they’re both winners.
Will you be in Orlando this weekend for the Classic? If so, we want to see your photos on social media. Simply tag them with #MyKindofClassic. To learn more about all of the Florida Blue Florida Classic events and to purchase tickets, visit www.floridaclassic.org.
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After a 20-year hiatus, Latondra recently relocated back to the Sunshine State and now works as an internal communications consultant at Florida Blue. As a true communications explorer, she enjoys helping people and organizations say the right things to the right people at the right time. She has a BS in Journalism from Florida A&M University and a MS in Communications from Purdue University. You can follow her on Twitter at @ Steele_I_Rise, especially if you’re a guinea pig owner!