For a town to become a football town, it must experience pain. It must roll through the mud with their football team. It must experience happiness and triumph with their team. It must bleed the blood of their football team, to the point where “they” becomes “we,” and menial day-to-day actions feel like they actually have real influence over the performances of football players who they’ve never actually met before in their lives.
This type of emotional connection is impossible when a city has no football team. For 20 whole years, from 1995 to 2005, that was Los Angeles. For kids who grew up in 90s Los Angeles, they had no one to truly lay their allegiance to if they were football fans. Sure, they could perform a basic outreach program, and simply “decide” to be a fan of a team from another city. But would it be the same? Teams such as the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers were neighborly options, but they didn’t quite cut it.
Of course, there were also two other teams that were very solid options to root for if you were an L.A. resident – the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams. The reasoning here is obvious – each of these teams once belonged to the city of L.A. There was history to draw from, and many Los Angelinos took advantage of that. However, everyone knows that when a team leaves your city, something gets lost in the translation, whether you like it or not.
Football is about tradition, and tradition is achieved by repetition. Wash, rinse, repeat. In other words, it doesn’t matter that the Rams and the Raiders once played in L.A. Once they left, it was hard to keep that loving relationship going. Similar to the hardships of a long distance romantic relationship, it was something that was tough to maintain. And the result was a town devoid of a football-beating heart. A City of Angels with no quarterback.
But now, friends, I’m pleased to inform you, in case you don’t already know, that the tide has changed dramatically over the last few years. Somehow, someway, Los Angeles is now the home of not one, but two NFL teams. The Los Angeles Chargers (moved from San Diego) and the Los Angeles Rams (moved, and returned, from St. Louis). Now L.A. citizens can finally wet their beaks into what it means to be a football fan.
Sunday Night Football will mean a lot more to Los Angeles now. Super Bowl Sunday will mean more. L.A. kids are going to grow up watching not just the Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, and Kings, but the Rams and Chargers too. It takes time to endear yourself to anything in this world, and the ones who grew up without a football team know that all too well. But now they have an opportunity to start something new.
The young kids of Los Angeles can now grow up in a town that has a football team. It’s all they know, and this is the beauty of it all. They have a clean slate, and who knows what kind of memories they and their team will now create? Who knows what kind of culture and bond will be instilled into their lives for years to come? Los Angeles citizens have been given a chance to create a new tradition for themselves, and L.A. may very well be a football town before we know it. Wash, rinse, repeat.