Boy oh boy this statement is one that has produced as much anger in a particular set of fans as “Let’s Go Raiders”. And if you have read my first post, you have figured out that the team I’m referring to is the one that used to be known as the San Diego Chargers. The San Diego Chargers played one season in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego in 1961. So essentially, they are from San Diego. For 55 years they called San Diego home, or at least San Diego was the city on their mailing address.
Growing up in San Diego, we had two teams that we could call our own. Those two teams were the Chargers and the Padres. My most vivid childhood memories involved Padres and Chargers games at Jack Murphy Stadium, or as it’s known today, Qualcomm Stadium. I remember watching Brett Favre throw up and down the field and AJ Burnett no hit the Padres. A common theme is brewing, more on this later. Back to those lightning bolts.
Anyone who has spent any time following the Chargers knows that ownership had one foot out the door for a solid decade. They claimed to love San Diego and wished they could stay, but any search of NFL shop licensed clothing spoke to the contrary. They stopped printing “San Diego” on anything that had to do with the Chargers and so the writing was on the wall. The reason behind this way that they needed a venue that was suited to host the all mighty NFL. I have attended games at Qualcomm Stadium as both a fan and a player, and I can tell you it rivals few as the biggest piece of feces the sporting world offers as a venue.
The outside is dated and the inside doesn’t deserve to host a high school team, let alone a professional franchise. Because of all of this, as well as an inability to build a stadium in America’s Finest City, they were gone. The writing was on the wall for as long as I can remember but it didn’t make it hurt any less. One of two teams I was raised to love decided they would rather be a tenant paying rent in another billionaire’s masterpiece than to really try and create their own. I don’t plan on listing facts and opinions as to who is to blame and why a stadium didn’t get done in San Diego because it is all bullshit anyway. Remember, this is a voice for the common fan.
Imagine a marriage of 20, 30, or even 50 years. For years, both could see that it was only a matter of time before they split up and went their separate ways. No matter the remedy it seemed like nothing would work. Finally the day came and one person leaves and shacks up with a new partner. Boom. Just like that it’s over. Even though you saw it coming from a mile away, you’re still left wondering what the heck just happened while the other is having no problem moving on. Like a bad dream that you are waiting to wake up from.
You hold out hope that they will come back and you try to reason with the decision. You know in the back of your mind it is over and you’re angry. This is what I, and many others, went through when the Chargers walked out the door. A lifetime of fandom has come down to a trip up the coast and a decision. Do you follow the team that just left your city, or dump them and move on?
This brings us to the title of this post. “If they only moved 2 hours north, what’s the big deal?” This is the most ignorant and insulting question I have ever been asked. For as long as I can remember, I have hated Los Angeles. I hate everything about it. I hate the teams, I hate the city, and I hate how they have a surplus of almost anything you could imagine. This now includes every major sport. Imagine if the Eagles moved to New York. Or the Jets moved to Boston. Would you expect fans to follow those teams into enemy territory? Hell no. So why is San Diego different?
Maybe it’s the laid back attitude or general assumption that we San Diegoans (little Ron Burgundy there) are just stoner surfer dudes. The idea that we don’t care is wrong and it pisses me off. As I’ve already said, San Diego has nothing in their glass case of happiness and yet we keep coming back for more. We care just as much as any fan base out there.
Many I have talked to though do not believe that Charger fans are just as dedicated as any other fan base. The major argument I hear refers to the abundance of opposing fans that have consistently drowned out Charger fans at home games. There are many reasons I have a problem with this. Number 1 is that, as I said before, we all knew what was going to happen. They were going to leave no matter what, so why support the team that is going to leave anyway? Why give them the capital they need to pay their relocation fee to then go and leave us. Number 2 is so simple and yet no one sees it. If you are from Green Bay, Wisconsin or Cleveland, Ohio and have a chance to see your team play in another city, which one would you choose? San Diego is a tourist hotspot and that holds just as much true for NFL fans as it does for the average person. San Diego is arguably the best city, or was the best city, to see a NFL game in my biased opinion.
In the weeks after the move a number of younger Charger players came out and said any fan that didn’t follow the team is not a “true fan”. Why is it ok for you to belittle and put down fans that are angry and disappointed that their lifetime of fandom is basically gone? You don’t care, and really you shouldn’t. You’re employed by a professional franchise to play football for a city you have no affiliation with. That’s ok. But don’t make me feel guilty for having a hard time supporting a team that just left me for the city I hate more than anything.
Trust me, I feel guilty enough without a 22 year old from Oakland telling me I’m not a true fan. I feel like no matter what I do I will be wrong. If I stay a fan, I’m saying it’s ok to dump a 55 year old fan base to move to another city so that you don’t have to open your checkbook to build a stadium. If I turn my back, I might as well be a bandwagon fan. So the debate inside my head lives on as I cannot choose a path to go down.
Recently I had an epiphany as it comes to the relationships we have with sport franchises. The relationship I had, and continue to have with the Chargers, is one synonymous to an abusive relationship. They keep shitting on me and I keep coming back for more, promising this will be the last time I fall for the lie. I know it’s wrong but I can’t simply walk away. Like I said, these teams are a part of me and my life. They are intertwined into everything I am and are not simply something I can just turn my back on and walk away, no matter the abuse.
The majority of my friends claim to have picked a new team and don’t care about the Chargers anymore. I find this hard to believe. I understand where they are coming from because I was there, but I can’t believe that after all of the cheers and many tears that they moved on that easily. It’s easy to say you don’t care anymore, but what happens when this next NFL season rolls around? This is the question I’m grappling with to this day. Do I jump back into that abusive relationship or do I finally walk away. Actions speak louder than words and I already know where my actions will lead me. Two hours north right back to the team I vowed to hate forever a few short months ago.