Where Do You Turn When Your Team Turns its Back on You?

I had just made it back to the glorious hostel wifi. 48 hours in the dark during a safari in Botswana and I was dying to check in with civilization. Naturally, I jumped straight onto Snapchat. My friend, Alex Cohen, had messaged me. “A Co prediction — Chargers are staying in San Diego.” That made me feel a little better. After all, the last major A Co prediction was “Buster Posey Hall of Fame,” back when he was just a rookie. After perusing social media for a bit, I checked ESPN.com for the playoff scores. Instead, I was hit with the dreaded headline: “Spanos Makes it Official, Chargers Moving to LA.”

The moment stung for a long time. It sounds ludicrous to say, but the only feeling I can compare it to is the disbelief of a friend dying. Before the emotion hits, when you just keep thinking “I can’t believe it,” over and over again. As if that could change reality. But there it was, clear as day, and I’ve been trying to process it ever since.

I can’t say it should have come as much of a surprise. The Spanos family never seemed like they really wanted to stay. They made fake, insulting offers, and balked when the city smartly turned them down. It was all for show, all so the NFL would eventually let them move to LA. They never missed a chance to take a shot at the fan base. Dean Spanos made it clear we were lucky to have them as he threatened to move the team year after year. If there’s one good thing that came out of this whole ordeal, it was seeing that dreadful family leave town.

Once you finally move past the sheer shock, you’re left wondering, “what’s next??” As a fan, you develop a special bond with your team’s players that’s hard to walk away from. Do I want to see Philip Rivers succeed and win a Super Bowl? Hell Yes. Do I want the same for the LA Chargers? Hell no. Thus, I’m left in a quandary.

The options are simple and yet so complex. I could be a nomad, someone who watches NFL Redzone, cares only about their fantasy team, and roots for a new team each year just because I like their players. We all know that guy. As someone who does this in basketball, I can assure you it is infinitely less exciting.

I could jump to a new team and go all in. I live in San Francisco now, why not be a Niners fan? This is a compelling option, yet feels strangely wrong. It’s as if your girlfriend dumped you, so you immediately jump into a mediocre relationship just to avoid being alone. Something about it just feels so forced.

Lastly, I could continue rooting for the LA Chargers. Root for the greedy and inept Spanos family. Root for that stupid Dodgers logo they slapped in our face the day of the move. Root for a city I have never called home. Sure, from the outside looking in, you could say LA is very close to San Diego. While the cities are close geographically, no one from either city would claim them to be one. It would be like a team from New York moving to Boston. It will never be the same.

Alas, I’m left without answers, still processing it all. They brought us terrible pain and heartbreak, but they were always our Chargers. They were a part of San Diego, and every fall the city would buzz that “this is our year.” We’ll never know that sweet redemption, that Super Bowl parade through San Diego I always dreamed of. They’re gone now, and they’re never coming back. Farewell, from a faithful, lost fan.