Friday, January 13, 2017

Los Angeles Chargers Are Now Officially a Thing

Okay, well, as my brother mentioned in the comments section yesterday, it has become official. The San Diego Chargers are no more, and the Los Angeles Chargers exist for the first time since the franchise's first year of existence, when they were indeed located in Los Angeles.

Players and former players have given their reaction to the move, with most that I saw expressing some regret and sadness in leaving, and some outright expressing anger at the manner in which this transition took place.

Indeed, Nick Hardwick, a former player, went so far as to alter the team's new logo (it's the letter LA in white on a blue background, and done up in a manner suggesting an electrical charge). Hardwick took that logo and added the letters ME to spell out "LAME," and went on to say in a tweet that he was not disgusted that the deal went down, but was disgusted in how the deal went down. Here's what it looks like:

Hardwick was not the only one who poked fun at the new logo. In fact, a new precedent was set, as the logo became the biggest butt of jokes on the NFL for a little while, briefly replacing President-elect Donald Trump. Perhaps what was most surprising was that other sports franchises were some of the ones taking the biggest swipes. Some of them were downright amusing.

A lot of people felt that the new logo was basically a different version of the logo for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which that club has had now for many, many years. However, there was one major league sports franchise that felt that the new logo bore more than a passing resemblance to their own logo, as well. Indeed, the Tampa Bay Lightning felt that the logo was a rip off of their own logo, and humorously stated that just "for the record, us and the @dodgers are just friends."

The Dodgers replied not long thereafter, tweeting to the Lightning: "you said you'd call."

The Dallas Stars also got in on the fun, posting an image of the Dallas Cowboys logo in green, and tweeting at the Cowboys, asking if this was okay. 

From that point onward, it just took off, with a whole bunch of other sports franchises, major league and minor leagues alike, mocking their new logos - all inspired by the Chargers new logo. Even a European football club got in on the joke, as FC Bayern reassured it's fans that the team would not be relocating to Los Angeles.

Yes, the new logo, and the new move, quickly became the popular butt of jokes throughout the internet, and perhaps deservedly so.

And now, almost exactly one year after the Rams officially relocated from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Chargers make their move relocating from San Diego to a few hours north, in Los Angeles. The second biggest city in the country went officially without a team for more than two decades. But in very short order, they got not one, but two NFL franchises. Both teams have blue, gold, and white as their uniform colors, and both teams have produced largely mediocre results in recent years. The Rams had a few years following their move out of L.A. when they were incredible, and dubbed "The Greatest Show on Turf." They went to two Super Bowls, and won one. And the Chargers had some years when they, too, were very good, particularly under quarterback Philip Rivers, who has made clear that he would not necessarily be on board with a move for the franchise out of San Diego.

All of that leaves question marks remaining for the two franchises. The Rams already made their move, and completed the past season in Los Angeles, although the enthusiasm was quickly extinguished because of how lame the team was on the field, particularly following week four. The Chargers are now making their move official, but they, too, are a struggling franchise, and have the misfortune of being in what is probably the best division in the league. Last season's Super Bowl champions, the Denver Broncos, are there, and they did not even qualify for the playoffs, because the two other dominant teams, the Raiders and the Chiefs, were just too good this season. What hope could the Chargers have right now of overtaking three serious teams and competing for their first season in the City of Angels?

Very little hope.

But the larger question is just how the fans in Los Angeles will take to them. They already have a newly relocated franchise there, and they seem to have largely lukewarm feelings at best. Largely ambivalent feelings seem likely for the Chargers, as well.

I have a friend who lives in Los Angeles, and he is a Dolphins fan. I asked him if he had tried to go see a Rams game, and he answered that the tickets and the parking were all ridiculously expensive, and that, combined with the congestion to go see the game, made it all not worth it. That tells me that this move was not by the Rams was not so much out of a sense of loyalty to their old fans in Los Angeles, but just one more in a long list of money making schemes and scams by a corporate entity that systematically puts profits before people. This latest move by the Chargers simply underscores that.

At first, the NFL was posting the mockery of the Chargers new logo, but before too long, it took it down. After all, the National Football league itself seems to make a habit of trying to make light of what could be embarrassing situations, before ultimately simply sweeping these things under the rug. That was the case with violent actions by players, from Michael Vick to Ben Roethlisberger to Ray Rice to Josh Brown, not to mention the whole concussion thing, which all evidence suggests the NFL was very well aware of, but tried to undermine the importance of.

Yes, the NFL has an image problem right now, and these latest moves by the Rams and now the Chargers, not to mention the possible move by the Raiders out of California and to Las Vegas, all underscore just how little fan loyalty is valued in the NFL, and that is not a joke. At least, not to the loyal fans of Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis, or of Cleveland, Houston, and Baltimore before them. For them, these moves are no laughing matter, even if some of those cities ultimately did get teams back. And for the NFL, this just shows that it can play along and laugh at itself for a little while, but it cannot keep up the pretense for too long. 

I have said this before, and will say it again now: sports is supposed to be a diversion, an escape from real life problems. But when sports franchises and/or sports leagues reveal these kinds of impersonal, highly corporate moves, they remind us too much that they are also just corporations with short-term profits in mind first and foremost, if not exclusively. And people, particularly fans, do not want to be reminded of that fact. This latest series of moves by NFL franchises, supposedly to greener pastures in new, more profitable markets, might actually win up hurting the league, and these individual clubs along with them. I do not believe that it was wise to move the Rams from Los Angeles to St. Louis in the first place, nor to move the Raiders out of Oakland and to Los Angeles, and then right back to Oakland, and now, possibly, to Las Vegas. Sports is supposed to be in large part about loyalty and self-sacrifice, and perhaps this is especially true for NFL football. To be reminded otherwise by these corporate moves is bound to be a sobering revelation to fans of the NFL, and of sports in general, that the very concept of loyalty in these sports is largely an illusion, as what these leagues and franchises truly value are profits and greed. It seems a bit of a shame that they feel the need to constantly remind us of that sad fact.

These two articles (see links below) by Abby Hamblin of The San Diego Union-Tribune are the ones that I used for this blog entry, including the images of the new logo, and the stories of other individuals and teams mocking it:

Other sports teams are roasting the Chargers for their new logo, L.A. move by Abby Hamblin of The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 12, 2017:

Chargers players react to L.A. move with emojis, apologies, a 'sorry' and a 'dang' by Abby Hamblin of The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 12, 2017:

No comments:

Post a Comment