The way a sports team connects with a city is a total mystery to me. I live in the Midwest where folks talk enthusiastically about “the Buckeyes” in the same way that I might talk about RuPaul or Lisa Kudrow. I now understand that college football is very much it’s own thing, and that NFL is a different beast in the same way that, say, Kylie and Dannii are sisters with their own distinct (although not dissimilar) oeuvres.
For the most part, I have embraced the fact that I live in a football-obsessed part of the country and even purchased a “Bobcats” sweater (which turned out to be a rival of Ohio State or Ohio University or oh fuck I don’t know, I just bought it for the Nike tick and the cool color blocking.) People certainly attach a lot of meaning to which team they support and it apparently says an awful lot about you which again, I get: the fashion cohort you pledge allegiance to is a life or death decision in some cities.
The Los Angeles Rams will be playing the New England Patriots this weekend at the Super Bowl. Most of the football fanatics I asked from around here didn’t know or care where the Rams were from, but turns out that Los Angeles is the birthplace of the Super Bowl — it kicked off in the LA Coliseum on Jan 15, 1967. Of course it was a far cry from today’s media event. At that time football wasn’t even the premiere sport in America (baseball was).
The truth is LA never really needed NFL as part of its identity because it is already the most crowded sports city in America (Dodgers, Lakers etc). It’s also the home of the movie industry so has other stuff going on besides sports. And perhaps the fact that Los Angeles is such an international city makes it difficult for a local team to dominate. I am a case in point: I went to the Dodgers Stadium to see Beyoncé in concert and ate chili fries out of a helmet. Does that make me a baseball fan? No.
Los Angeles is a city with a $1 trillion economy today. But when the Rams left in 1994 it was a traumatized place after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The franchise was no longer self-supporting financially. Fan support was waning and government officials had little interest in helping build a new stadium or take other steps that would boost revenue. St. Louis offered lucrative incentives to bring the team east plus it was the hometown of the Rams’ owner Georgia Frontiere, also known as 'Madame Ram’.
The Rams had been a fixture in Los Angeles since 1946 when owner Dan Reeves moved them west from Cleveland. The franchise returned to LA in 2016 and while fans who felt betrayed have been slow to forgive, you can’t ignore the fact that the Rams are a force to be reckoned with right now. “It feels like the second golden age of the Rams has begun,” said Mayor Garcetti. With the 2028 Olympics around the corner, the sporting spotlight of the world will be on Los Angeles once again. Maybe it’s time for me to pick a team and to get behind the Rams?