The Chargers and the Curious Case of Caring Too Much
I’ve realized something recently that I continue to let plague me over and over again: I think too much about the Chargers and about how others feel about the Chargers. A few weeks ago I went into a tirade on the podcast about the media in San Diego continuing to cover the team, and locals getting roped in to caring. The rant mainly called out John Gennaro, who I consider a friend. We then invited him on the pod to “debate” me about his stance and mine. It almost solved something, but then I got angry at Padres Jagoff’s assessment of the “debate”. Then last night I got angry at Gennaro’s stance on twitter that if you didn’t attend the Chargers home opener in Carson then you’re not allowed to comment on the lack of Chargers fans in the stands. His argument that a lack of Chargers fans is nothing new to Chargers home games also got me agitated.
I like Jagoff and I like Gennaro. They’re both intelligent, well-informed fans of sport. They know they’re stuff, and in Gennaro’s case he’s paid to stay that way. Yet, I found myself getting angry. I found myself getting pissed at Woods for liking a tweet from the LA Chargers. Why? Why did I care, and why does it still bother me?
When I was three years old my family moved to San Diego, and I lived in Clairemont until my early twenties. I then moved to University Heights, then College Area, and eventually landed in Oceanside with my wife as she grew up in North County. Last October we moved to Temecula for what the city offered us: space, affordable housing, and an impeccable school district.
To say I grew up loving the Chargers is an understatement. It was a religion in my household. My mom pulled out her Seau jersey every week, and we had cookouts, and pot lucks, and went to watch parties, and some times would just go tailgate without ever heading in to the stadium. I cried, literally, during the 1994 Super Bowl. I danced with joy when the team passed on Vick and pulled off an amazing move to get Brees, LT and Tim Dwight. I wrote one of the longest most ridiculous pieces of my life when the team decided to let Brees go.
I even found a way to legitimately root for Cleo Lemon.
I loved the Chargers. They were always a part of my life.
I always ignored the stadium drama, and as I got older I started to get very complacent about a new stadium for a team that didn’t really win much. I thought former Mayor Jerry Sanders always handled the issue correctly – basically saying we had more important things to worry about as a city. He was right then, and that mentality is still accurate (see: Hep A).
When we re-launched the podcast a few years ago a new Chargers stadium was all the rage. We talked about it, and for the most part never imagined the team would ever leave San Diego. Then, we had an anonymous source tell us before the start of the 2015 season that the team would be leaving no matter what happened. Slowly, the few friends I still had in media started to confirm that assessment. They all knew, but pretended to act like they didn’t. This was for ratings, and I do not blame any of them, as I hate seeing friends in radio lose jobs and forced to spin Staind records at some low level nothing of a station in Lancaster.
However, when I learned they would definitely be leaving it was the straw that broke my huge alcoholic back. I had long been confused on how to feel about the NFL. The players seemed to get more and more stupid. Ex-players were literally becoming brain dead, owners were more greedy than ever, and off the field conduct made me feel like I was rooting for the villains in every 1990’s teen movie.
The only other team I had connection to was my Dad’s favorite team – the Bengals. He lived in Ohio, and that’s where I was born, so I adopted the team and let go of the Bolts. It was more that I let go of Spanos, and would cheer for the Chargers if they were on the TV and I happened to be watching.
Then they moved. Spanos decided he could do better in LA. He left fifty years of history, generations of fans, and one of the most beautiful markets in the country to be fifth fiddle in a town that had no desire to have him. He was the Travis Jankowski of NFL owners.
I was pissed. Infuriated. I knew he was going to leave for almost two years, and I still cared. I still couldn’t believe it or understand it and I felt awful for die-hard fans that had tattoos or spent thousands on tickets or got duped into thinking Spanos ever cared about San Diego or San Diegans.
Spanos was and is an asshole. He made an asshole move. The national sports media took notice, and agreed he was an asshole. Other sports noticed and agreed he was an asshole. Well, now the asshole is getting a little comeuppance and it’s more beautiful than the view from the cliffs in Encinitas.
However, I got too involved. I hated them too much. The fury with which I cheered turned into the ire with which I denounced. And, I expected others to feel the same as I did. I was wrong.
Being a fan is different for everyone. You didn’t grow up in my house, with my family. Likewise, I didn’t spend Sundays with you and yours. We had separate experiences that culminated during a shared event. I shouldn’t expect you to hate or to denounce or to even have an issue with the Chargers or Spanos.
Gennaro can have his takes, Jagoff can have his takes, and Woods can show support for a colleague. If I disagree with that what does it matter?
Right now we are living through a weird time. No one likes anyone and everyone is smarter than everyone else. When the truth is we’re all morons who wouldn’t dare say half the shit we say online to each other’s faces. Down deep we just want to ingest entertainment in the form of sport, and give ourselves some respite from the shit storm we see on a daily basis. But, what happens when that world of sports also becomes a storm of shit?
We argue with each other about who is allowed to say what about a franchise that abandoned fans without hesitation. We dictate what emotions you’re allowed to feel about an owner who hasn’t thought about you – ever.
We need to just enjoy it. Enjoy the lack of attendance. Enjoy the laughable miscues on and off the field. Enjoy the banner that flew above calling out Spanos. Enjoy your fantasy football team. Enjoy MLB playoffs. Enjoy each other.
That starts with not being like the asshole that left us last year, and I for one am ready to wipe.
For more expert sports stuff, and things you probably won’t care about, follow me on Twitter @dallas_mc
Aaron Lewis is a national treasure!