Chargers have an uphill climb in L.A.
By Joel Garcia
When polled, Angelenos listed their favorite L.A. teams. The Chargers were not included in the poll since they were not officially the “Los Angeles Chargers” when it was conducted. However, the results show an uphill struggle for a team coming off back-to-back losing seasons and without a history in the city.
The L.A. Times has the results of the latest Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles poll that asked who L.A.’s favorite team, regardless of sport. Specifically, 2,400 Angelenos were asked: “What is your favorite professional sports team with L.A. in its name?”
L.A.’s favorite teams
The Dodgers and Lakers claimed the top spots while the Rams finished a distant sixth with only five percent of the vote. The results are shown in the table below:
“What is your favorite professional sports team with L.A. in its name?”
The Lakers have been the top pick for the last few years for a reason. The team has won multiple championships and had star players throughout. However, there is also a reason the Dodgers are L.A.’s new favorites.
Kobe Bryant retired, leaving the Lakers without a mega-star, something L.A. loves. Also, it doesn’t help that the team has struggled mightily the last few years, posting their worst loss records in the team’s history.
On the other hand, the Dodgers are rising. The Dodgers have star power and more importantly, wins. The team is again the favorite to win the National League West and is expected to contend for a championship. This has no doubt led to the team again becoming L.A.’s favorite, even though half the city can’t see them on TV.
What the Chargers learn from this
The answer is simple: L.A. loves a winner! That is why the Dodgers have now overtaken the Lakers as the new favorite team in town.
Still, the Lakers surprisingly still poll well despite their recent losing seasons, as the Dodgers did before that. This shows that L.A. will tolerate a bad season (or four) if progress is made.
The Lakers have won goodwill from fans by always striving to not just compete, but to win championships. The last few seasons have been an aberration and the latest front office moves show the team is intent on winning again. Those moves and nostalgia no doubt keep affinity for the Lakers alive, but the team needs to win if they want to overtake the Dodgers.
The Chargers are therefore in a tough spot. The team has never won a championship, have posted back-to-back losing seasons, alienated their fan base and will be playing in the smallest NFL venue in the league. Also, the team, although originally founded in Los Angeles, has not played a game here since 1960, so there is no goodwill or nostalgia to keep fans waving the Charger flag.
But it’s not all bad. The upside, as the L.A. Times article pointed out, is that Los Angeles is big, really big! Even if the Chargers only garner a measly three percent of the vote for favorite L.A. team, that’s still a lot of people, considering the region’s almost 20 million headcount and rank as the nation’s second-largest media market.
When the Raiders and Rams left Los Angeles in 1995, the Chargers became a television staple on Sunday mornings. This surely helped the team gain a few L.A. fans, some who are excited to now have the team in their backyard. This corresponds to an article posted on the website FiveThirtyEight, showing that the Chargers had more Angelenos searching for them before they moved here than did the newly-again minted Los Angeles Rams.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
The team has also been busy making inroads. They have held rallies and events through the city and will continue to do so, most recently inviting fans to Draft Fest, a free event where Chargers’ Philip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Branden Oliver and others will mingle with fans at the team’s temporary home at StubHub Center in Carson, Ca.
Join Philip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Branden Oliver and many more for DraftFest. Free and open to the public | Draft begins at 9 a.m. ⚡️ Link in bio ? #chargers #fightforla
A post shared by Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:13pm PDT
So as I’ve written before, I think the Chargers will be fine. To be more than fine and creep up in the list of L.A.’s favorite teams, they need to win. Winning fixes a lot of problems!
Additionally, even if the team doesn’t start by winning a Super Bowl in their inaugural season here, they can still garner a following by demonstrating a commitment to bringing a championship to Los Angeles.
Although I was not polled, here is my personal list of favorite L.A. teams:
Chargers over Rams? Of course!
At a minimum, I hope the team has a good season and ranks ahead of the Rams next year.
Where do the Chargers rank in your favorite L.A. team list?