Have you ever seen someone that is so reluctant to claim their own? Embarrassed to be seen with them and wishing they would just go away?
Well, I have, and that someone is not a someone, it’s a something.
Los Angeles, California.
That’s right, I am talking about a city. But then again, it’s a city I know and love. It’s a city I have lived in for over two decades, which makes me qualified to make this analysis.
Sports are supposed to unite a community. At its very core, it brings people together from all different walks off life, giving them, for at least a few hours, a common interest or goal. You could possible make a new friend or find your significant other at your local ballpark or arena. Regardless if a new relationship if formed or not, you walk away with a strong sense of community, and that you comprise of something bigger than yourself.
But, what if this is not the case for some teams?
What if that city that they claim on their uniforms doesn’t really like or support them? What if that same city wants them to leave on the next bus to whatever open sports market will build them a new arena or stadium? What if that same city does not just do that with a single team, but two?
That’s the state of affairs currently affecting the city of Los Angeles. While this entire ordeal is complicated, it is also very understandable.
I’ll start with basketball, and I’m assuming you know which of the two teams is treasured and which one is loathed. Which one is beloved and which one is detested.
Obviously, the Lakers are the former and the Clippers, the latter.
For the duration of the three-plus decades the Clippers have called Los Angles home, they have always played the role of little brother. Regardless of what they achieved, it would never stand up to the older, more desirable Los Angeles Lakers.
Laker games attracted celebrities and business moguls, Clipper games attracted fans who concealed their identity with brown paper bags.
“Just win one game,” the bags proclaimed. Meanwhile, the Lakers would win multiple championships and hold multiple parades. This would help usher in a common urban legend throughout the southland that the fans at Clipper games were really just Laker fans, looking for a cheap ticket to attend an NBA game.
To some extent, this still goes on. Clipper players are booed at Dodger games. Los Angeles area talk show hosts actively root against the Clippers in the postseason. Most Laker fans are still counting down the days when the Clippers decided to leave the city, a move that has apparently been accelerated ever since Steve Balmer acquired ownership.
It is for this reason that makes the Chargers decision to move north so confusing. Don’t they know it’s a Rams’ city, aren’t they aware of the Clippers-Lakers relationship, or are they just that ignorant?
Even though the Chargers played their inaugural 1960 AFL season in Los Angeles, they did so in the shadows of the Los Angeles Rams. The Chargers would move south to San Diego the very next season and spend the next 55 years there. Over time, the Chargers became a part of the culture and fabric of San Diego.
So why did they leave?
They left because sports often imitates real life. Loyalty is an oft forgotten and lost trait in today’s society. We live in a world where everybody is “out to get mine,” and getting mine is usually a zero-sum game.
Businesses often proclaim that the customer is always right. While that may be true in many professions, it lends some doubt to its validity within the realm of sports entertainment.
Before you vehemently deny my opinion, let me explain to you in further detail.
Most of Los Angeles cannot watch the Dodgers. Why? Because the Dodgers agreed to a lucrative television contract at the expense of the fans who do not subscribe to that carrier’s cable package.
The city of Oakland, a town and community that has loved and supported the Raiders for all of their existence, including the 12 years they spent in Los Angeles, will once again lose their team. Fans will now be left looking for another way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
The city of Seattle is still without an NBA team, and everyone knows the raw deal they were dealt nearly a decade ago.
The Chargers will now become the latest team to conduct business that is also detrimental to their fan base. They will leave a town and community that has loved them, to essentially become the little brother to the Rams.
Let’s just hope they aren’t imagining that they’ll be loved.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]