Maybe you’ve heard. Because you own a TV. Or a radio. Or go online. Or drive on our city’s roads. Or watch HBO. Or recently had a mildly pleasant conversation with a stranger.
This, of course, is very exciting news for the city of Los Angeles, which suffered too long in the shadows of such major NFL metropolises like Green Bay (population: cheese) and Buffalo (still included on most American maps). No longer will people from Nashville and Indianapolis look at LA as flyover country on their way to Hawaii. Not now. We’re big-time. Can Barstow say that? Victorville?
The Rams return Monday night against the 49ers. Of course we all want the Rams to win because no bond on earth is stronger than that between local citizen and the sports franchise located the least amount of miles away from their house.
But Los Angeles isn’t a typical football city. We didn’t have pro football from 1995-2015. This was a dark time, and we dealt with the pain the only way we knew how. By hiking and surfing and biking and swimming and getting tans and going to the beach and learning to cook and tending to our gardens and spending time with friends and family and writing books and screenplays and creating the world’s best live comedy, restaurants, TV shows, video games and movies.
We also watched some football—just not local football. We’re a city filled with transplants who struck out to LA in search of something better. Like me. I moved here from somewhere else. Will I root for the Rams? Yeah, sure, the way I rooted for the U.S. equestrian team in the Olympics. Because, hey, I live there. But will I be a fan? That’s an entirely different question. You can root for a team and not be a fan.
As much as I’m learning to like the Rams (if you haven’t watched Hard Knocks yet on HBO yet, do so, if only for the go-kart accidents), I do not LOVE the Rams. My team is the Cleveland Browns. I was born a disappointed Browns fan and I will die a disappointed Browns fan because where I come from – the Midwest – loyalty trumps joy, and only death gives sweet release.
A buddy of mine – a New York Giants fan named Rob – recently asked me whether or not I will raise my kids as Browns fans. I wanted to say, “Definitely. Have to. Why should they be any happier than me?” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized molding my kids into Browns fans might not be entirely fair to them, and not just because the Browns make the Trump campaign look competent, coherent and well-organized. I told Rob I didn’t know. This isn’t an easy decision like picking your kids’ religion. Who your kids should cheer for takes some thought.
Valid Reasons to Raise Your Kids as Rams Fans
You Don’t Have a Team
If you don’t have a favorite NFL team, or if you were born and raised in LA, it’s a no-brainer. If you enjoy football, you should be a Rams fan. Enjoy the NFL now before it is sued out of existence as a result of the league’s brain injury crisis.
You Don’t Care about Your Hometown Team Anymore
If you can’t name your hometown team’s starting quarterback and coach, you’re not an actual fan anymore. You let your allegiance lapse. Your fandom is up for grabs. If anyone tries to shame you … don’t worry about it. You didn’t care enough in the first place to be a fan, so the shame should not bother you. Shrug it off.
Of all the many shamings, sports fan shaming is one of the least-discussed. There is no greater sports sin than not cheering for the team that everyone expects you to cheer for because blind fate thrust you into existence somewhere near a large publicly-funded sports edifice. God forbid you decide to root for a more competent franchise. You have betrayed the local billionaire owner and his millionaire employees by doing something better with your time. You are worse than Hitler
You are a Member of the Los Angeles Rams
You Don’t Plan to Move Back Home Ever
OK, here’s where it gets tricky. Part of the fun of being a kid and having a favorite NFL team is going to training camp and team events, attending games, getting to watch all the games on TV, learning to love (or hate) the local announcers, calling sports talk shows when you’re 12, going to a school where they dress up in the local team’s colors on Fridays, having friends who root for the same team and, most of all, sharing these strong sports bonds with your mom and dad and siblings your whole life. You can’t do most of that stuff from 2,000 miles away from where your dad lived when he was 8.
If you want to give your kid an opportunity to love a sport the way you did, they can’t experience the NFL through the narrow prism of DIRECTV. They need to see these guys in real life and high-five them running off the field and sit in a stadium with 70,000 other fans. Like my brothers and I did, getting autographs and going to football camps and obsessing over the sports pages and local news broadcasts.
That doesn’t mean you must stop cheering for whatever team has been disappointing you your whole life. It means you ought to give your kids the chance to be disappointed locally. Once you commit to living in LA, you have to go all-in. If you want the city’s great weather, world-class entertainment and bountiful recreational opportunities, you also have to accept its probably 8-8 football team, too. For the good of the children.