My name is Lee Bedrouni, and I'm a Chargers sufferer.
"Don't you mean a fan?" some will ask and, to some subjective extent, yeah I'm a fan of the (now) Los Angeles Chargers professional football team. Man, that is still really odd to type that in full, particularly the "professional" part (I kid, you know what part is the weirdest to write in full).
I say that I'm a Chargers sufferer instead of a fan or, more preferably, a supporter (the colloquial term for human beings who follow and root for soccer teams that I think honestly makes more sense than a term so rooted in dogma it comes from the word, "fanatic") because, let's be frank, following the Chargers and being a fan (or a "fan", I don't really bother with that subjective binary, but we'll get into the differences in a moment) is to know what it means to suffer.
And I mean, truly, truly suffer.
I can regale the number of Chargers moments that are rooted in my memories that are painful as everloving hell. Last second collapses, mind-melting strategic miscalculations that lead to ruination, mistakes of all kinds, blown calls, terrible play, lack of effort, lack of skill, poor fundamentals, etc.
But that's not why I'm writing this piece.
I'm here to address the... I don't want to say "few" but I'm going to say "the less than normal amount of followers and commenters give or take this typical stretch of the Chargers offseason" folks who frequent this website and intend to do so despite the Chargers move.
Folks like me.
(NOTE: This is where those who are still in the midst of their absolutely acceptable and understandable emotional outpouring and grief can scroll down the comments page to explain why they will no longer follow the team. My piece is not intended to sway fans to remain, but to cobble together a code of solidarity and fandom that has some discernible form of dignity going forward with the team)
For those of whom are familiar with my general savagery in the comment section under my previous afroamongfew name, I imagine that this probably comes as a surprise. For someone so critical of the Chargers and oft-described as negative, I imagine plenty of you would think this would be the perfect face-saving opportunity for me to ride off into the sunset and emerge as... I don't know, a Raiders fan? I mean, I do live in Los Angeles after all. But that’s not the case.
I can't quite pin my feelings for why I'll continue to follow the team. I've made some wonderful friendships in due part to coming to this website and commiserating with many of the Chargers faithful on here and on twitter, and while I am fully aware that a significant chunk of the fandom, ergo that camaraderie, will no longer exist as of today, I still see a fan community worth preserving.
Though I do believe my fandom for the Los Angeles Lakers and Manchester City helped accept "broader" horizons for my fan allegiance, I have to imagine that there's something about the team, about the laundry, about the spirit of players like Philip Rivers, Joey Bosa, Jason Verrett and co. that's inspiring my decision to stick with this particular ship. At least I hope so because in the absence of reason that’s all that is left.
This is where I turn to you, remaining fans of the Chargers and frequenters of Bolts From the Blue, to advocate for what it means to be a fan of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 and beyond and if you know me and my writing, know this won't be pretty. Thus follows my suggestions (read: rules) for fan conduct and awareness in light of the relocation:
Suggestion #1) DO NOT harass ex-San Diego Chargers fans about being outspoken for choosing to no longer follow the team NOR why they choose to no longer follow the team
Like the Spanos family, most players just don't want to be San Diegans. That's fine: Just don't tell or suggest how San Diegans should act.— Ryan Barker (@grimmetal) January 13, 2017
You would think this would be f$%#&ing obvious given the highly emotional and incredibly controversial circumstances of the team's move to Los Angeles, but I've definitely seen fans on social media (here's looking at you, twitter) being complete and utter jerks, saying things to the extent of "you should have shown up to games if you were going to miss the team so much" and "hah, you were never truly fans to begin with".
Blaming San Diego fans for the stadium vote is a joke. The ship has sailed on subsidizing stadiums for billion dollar franchises— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) January 12, 2017
Personally, I've always hated the "genuine/legitimate" fan criticism. Sure, I admit that fans and supporters who are, well, more
pollyannaish positive than my liking can irk me, but calling someone's fandom into question, i.e. questioning the legitimacy of their fandom, is a low blow and a cheap attack. Don't do this, ffs.
Suggestion #2) Being an LA Chargers fan "from day 1" is arbitrary and dumb
This goes against my own beliefs with regards to the Spanos family's stewardship of the Chargers franchise (more on that in a second) but there is definitely the chance that in a competitively weak AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers become competitive and, hell, reach a Super Bowl.
When/if... When that happens, I'm going to be incredibly upset if I see people puffing their chests out to the tune of "I WAS ALWAYS AN LA CHARGER, SINCE DAY ONE." Like, do you have any idea how insensitive that is? Good grief. No, what we're going to have to act like is much like the German National Football (/sigh... soccer) Team fans behaved in the post-war era of international soccer:
Fandom for the Los Angeles Chargers is going to be a more personal, maybe small social joy, but a public (in their case, international, but in our case, regional) shame.
2018 Super Bowl Champions will be the LA Chargers. It just seems to fit the life of a San Diego sports fan.— Ted Dawson (@Ted_Dawson) January 13, 2017
And sure, maybe a Super Bowl run will change the atmosphere and sunshine will blast out of my rear end, but until that day, rooting for this franchise to succeed, in light of what just transpired, is going to be a complicated, frustrating things that we're just going to have to deal with. Here's why:
Suggestion #3) Root for the (
some?) players, NOT team ownership
Remember the Chargers the next time someone tells you you must support "your" team. And then respond, "It's not mine. Some rich guy owns it"— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) January 12, 2017
I mean, I think this one's pretty obvious. Nobody was cheering on Donald Sterling or Frank McCourt, for instance, but still it remains to be said that we Los Angeles Chargers (or simply Chargers) fans/supporters/sufferers will be supporting a greedy craven coward (and his disputably competent kin) who cannot help but act on his own self-interest no matter how many people he manages to have pissed off at all levels and walks of life from Southern California to the league offices in NYC to some of the international fans I know across the Atlantic.
Plainly put, the Spanos family can never be forgiven for what they did, no matter what amount of success comes the Chargers way. They are a stain on the franchise, and the sooner some tech bro CEOs manage to cobble enough money to buy out the Spanos family and kick them out of the NFL eternally, the better.
"I AM HUMAN AND I WANT TO BE LAVISHED WITH A BILLION DOLLAR SPORTS STADIUM OR ELSE, JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DOES!" Dean "Morrissey" Spanos https://t.co/zbMIorDnTZ— Lee Bedrouni (@A_Fro_Among_Few) January 13, 2017
I would include a line about the notion of adopting some financial punishment techniques but, let's be square here: The Spanos family just saw their cash cow's value double (if not triple) in one day. They're laughing to the bank no matter what. But that doesn't mean we should ever, EVER lionize them for anything good that happens to come this franchise's way from now until the day they finally sell the team. The Chargers succeed in spite of the Spanos Family ownership, so remember that when talking to fans of other teams, "my team's got it rough, it has to fight the shittiest ownership in professional sports history on top of a 16 game schedule every season".
How are you heartbroken and excited https://t.co/Yr5jSaGzxM— TG (@tg_1208) January 12, 2017
Which brings me to who you should support... The players (...if we're being realistic, SOME players, though you should always at least hope for the guys who aren't particularly good or great to improve, right?).
Now, I know that a number of players have said things that have had, um, not quite tactful as one would hope in terms of being on the digital frontline of this emotionally charged scenario. That's to be expected since, for the most part, football players are more mercenary than loyal best friend (more on "loyalty" in a bit), but they're also an active part of the local community, and I imagine that plenty of current Chargers players will endure the bitterness that remains to continue their service in and around San Diego (thought in a more individual sense than anything team related, I imagine) as well as joining similar outreach and activism efforts in and around Los Angeles.
Chargers leaving is TERRIBLE. Sad day for everyone who supported the chargers. City and people are amazing. SD will always be my home!!!— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) January 12, 2017
That being said, there's something inherently magical about the things that some of these players can do thats just inexplicable beyond any describable sense of euphoria and joy. A Philip Rivers targeted missile (after looking off the safety) some 10-15 yds down field, a Keenan Allen slant rount where he turns the DB's legs into stone, a Melvin Gordon run that looks like something out of an Earl Campbell highlight video, a Joey Bosa shrug post-sack, etc.
Philip Rivers Holds Back Tears Talking Chargers Move To L.A. (AUDIO) https://t.co/D9XwliThsh— TMZ (@TMZ) January 13, 2017
Sure, I'm not going to lie and say none of the luster of watching the Chargers play has gone, nor that it WONT be surreal to see them play pro football on a soccer pitch for two season, but there's still something about this team and it's players that compels me (and I imagine yourself) to continue to follow/suffer them in spite of the horror show things tend to devolve into when it comes to the Chargers.
The performances. The record breaking seasons. The streaks. Those fleeting moments of triumph. The gleam, as Marty Schottenheimer would say. (which I'm appropriating here because, c'mon, nobody knew what in the world a "gleam" was). That's my best guess as to why to keep being involved with this franchise.
That being said...
Suggestion 4) "Loyalty" is absolutely f#@!$%ing meaningless
it isn't about loyalty, more like cognitive dissonance, honestly. https://t.co/lenGfmjzjW— Lee Bedrouni (@A_Fro_Among_Few) January 12, 2017
I'm going to level with you, and this goes as a warning to all incoming fans of the team (yeah, I know, hah hah, but - eventually - there will be LA Chargers fans coming on board): Your fandom, your suffering, your humiliation, your ruminations, your joy, your passion, your hatred, your frustration, your thoughts, feelings and memories about the Chargers?
They ultimately do not matter one single, solitary bit in the, let's say, "grander" (imagine those quotation marks being as huge as the sun) scheme of things for the NFL.
Chargers again show NFL not about fan loyalty https://t.co/CR9270UZCa— Misha (@Mishadibono) January 12, 2017
Frankly, the Chargers could realize they've made a horrible mistake and wind up moving back to San Diego in a decade or two. Additionally, San Diego might become a destination for the next NFL team to either relocation or form in the wake of expansion (unlikely, but hey, stranger things have happened) and I wouldn't blame a single solitary soul left supporting the Chargers from joining that ship. Even if it's the Raiders.
I think the most interesting part of this 4th suggestion is the fact that it's why websites like Bolts From the Blue are so integral and vital for football fans. Having a place to go and commiserate and debate/analyze/squabble over every little detail concerning the football team/game/players is essential for trying to appreciate/enjoy this sport.
I say that especially as it continually devolves into the kind of cloyingly, pre-packaged garbage that somehow manages to offend everyone while desperately attempting to not offend anyone in the most hollow, soulless way imaginable. I don't understand how the NFL manages to be so coldly sterile and flagrantly filthy in equal proportion year after year after year but it is astounding.
Because the NFL and the Chargers promise a sense of community and social activity ("Football is Family") that's more farcical and cynical than the PR concocted facade it is, fan communities like Bolts From the Blue become more and more important and integral to my fandom as a whole. And frankly, getting this close to the NFL's sausage-making factory (to borrow from Jeff Siniard, who I will miss dearly as a writer on this website) I know that remaining a Chargers fan would be ten times more difficult.
Therefore, I do want to announce that I'm going to start writing semi-regularly for the site. I might wind up commenting a little less in order to help support the site as it understandably withstands this period of flux (but I mean, hell, I have at least a half dozen "WRITE A FAN POST FOR IT" replies in my inbox as is). I want to thank Richard Wade for the opportunity and platform, and I look forward to hearing from you guys and gals in terms of what I have to say about the team from now on.
- Lee Bedrouni
San Diego Chargers sufferer (with some lapses): 1989 - 2017
Los Angeles Chargers sufferer: 2017 -