You know the phrase “its not me, it’s you”?
This is the opposite.
In this case it is not me, like at all. This is all about you. And by you, I mean my former pro football team, the San Diego Chargers.
Before you think I’m some sort of fair-weather, bandwagon fan you need to know a few things.
My graduation gift from high school was two season tickets for the Chargers. I attended every game. I worked a crap job during college to afford to renew those tickets the following year. Didn’t miss a game that year, either. I stood in the rain in 1992 to welcome the team back after it clinched the AFC West. I wore Chargers colors to the L.A. Coliseum to watch the Chargers play the Raiders. Same at the Big A to see them play the LA Rams. I am, or was, a real fan.
It is now apparent, to me, the Chargers organization does not want me to root for their team. A difficult pill to swallow, indeed.
I keep asking myself: what does this team do in order to show me it appreciates my dedication?
On the flip side, how does the organization show me it couldn’t care less? The volume of answers is deafening.
For years the organization told me it needs to move to Los Angeles to protect its business because 25% of its ticket buyers live north of Camp Pendleton. First, I don’t buy that statistic.
But let’s assume its true. What about the 75% of their fan base lives south of the Orange County line? It would seem they matter to the team’s bottom line. Why is it, then, it takes getting denied LA for the organization to even negotiate a stadium deal here? it makes no sense.
Listen, I don’t care if you want to move your team. Do what you want. Make your money. I just don’t appreciate being lied to and then asked to forgive and forget.
Fact: the team wanted LA because of lucrative corporate tie-ins and additional revenue streams from the second-largest market in the country, not the 25%. They could have just said so. They decided, instead, to distort the truth. Take a true fact and use it as the basis for their false claim. It is a clever trick, but I see right through.
I swear, this organization lies so often fans have become numb.
But wait, we’re not done.
When the team finally came back to the bargaining table, the stadium proposal it offered was a non-starter. The likely to be $2 billion monolith requires a city to approve a tax hike when the same city refused to raise taxes for public safety. The organization has to know Prop C has almost no chance of passing.
But it doesn’t matter. There’s no compromise with this organization. Give us the world or else. Again, they have a right to run their business their way, but I have a right to establish my own level of passion for their product.
Which brings us to the team’s first-round draft pick. Once again, the organization flat-out refuses to compromise. Another front office would make something happen. It would figure out a way to put the absolute best football product on the field. This organization doesn’t.
And for what? The organization says it doesn’t want to set a precedent of backing down because it will stain all future negotiations.
The problem is: their tactics don’t work. Contract holdouts are commonplace at Chargers Park. Have been for decades. None of the team’s hard-line positions have stopped future impasses. So, what’s the point, then?
I would argue the team is just stubborn and arrogant. They do it because they can. You know what that sounds like? A bully.
Sports are supposed to be a pleasant diversion. I like to watch my favorite teams with a smile on my face. I now realize the Chargers don’t make me smile any longer. They make me angry. They make the muscles in my back tense-up.
I do not wish to feel that way about something that should bring me joy. Logic, therefore, has led me to a very somber conclusion. I can not, in good conscience, call myself a fan of the San Diego Chargers.
I can not believe I just typed that sentence, which ends a 30+ year relationship with the team.
All of my Chargers’ gear is in my garage. You’ll find it on eBay soon.
As for football, I think I need to take some time off with the NFL. I’ll still watch, but I want to give myself some emotional space.
I’d like to announce my new favorite football team as the San Diego State Aztecs.