September 14, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Loyalty By Default

I’ve seen the best and the worst—mostly the worst—of the San Diego Chargers in the 20 or so years I’ve been a fan. Back in the 1980s, the “Air Coryell” days created offensive legends of Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. In the 1990s, led by Junior Seau’s rising star, the team became a defensive powerhouse. With Stan Humphries and Natrone Means giving strength to the offense, the team momentarily achieved enough greatness to reach (and get clobbered in) the Super Bowl. Since then, despite standouts like LaDainian Tomlinson, Curtis Conway and Marcellus Wiley, the team has limped through the seasons with mostly losing records.

This year, displaying abysmally poor performances in the first two regular-season games, the Chargers have finally pushed me to the edge of tolerance. With a 0-2 record that seems like a perfect start to a 0-16 season, and continued off-the-field whining from the organization about how much they deserve a new stadium, I find myself eyeing the other teams in the league like a man stuck in an unhappy marriage checking out the ladies. In recent years, I’ve cringed far more often than I’ve cheered while watching the Chargers lose or throw away games. How much can one fan take?

Some might think I’m putting way too much emotion into a simple game of sports. But what are professional sports about, if not emotion? The “thrill” of victory, the “agony” of defeat, the “excitement” of watching your favorite team march down the field… It’s all about emotion. That’s what drives us football fans. But when most of the emotions are anger, disappointment and defeat, where’s the fun? Such emotions, when punctuated by eleventh-hour, come-from-behind victories, make for high drama; but lately, the Chargers have followed the opposite pattern, offering their fans come-from-ahead losses (when they rarely find themselves in the lead, that is).

If the rest of the season plays out like the first two games have, I’ll find myself with a difficult choice: either abandon football altogether and use my Sundays for more productive activities; or cast about the league for a more worthy team to make my own. San Diego the city, overcrowded and overdeveloped, has long since ceased to feel like my hometown, so I suppose there’s no longer any reason that San Diego the team must receive my loyalty by default.

So then, if all that’s left is history—my long history as a Chargers fan—then there’s not much keeping me rooting for them. After all, the Chargers have had no problem putting their history behind them, abandoning stars like Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison. Maybe it’s time I put my own history behind me.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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September Columns:

9/29: Open Season
9/28: Runaway Train
9/27: The Seven
9/25: Dreamscape
9/24: Survivor: Sacramento
9/23: What Am I Doing at Work?
9/21: San Diego Chokers
9/20: Farewell, Galileo
9/17: Anything Can Happen
9/16: Midnight Writing
9/15: Decline and Fall
9/14: Loyalty By Default
9/13: Debt Snowball
9/12: My Cup Runneth Over
9/11: Unforgettable Day
9/10: Fall Approaches
9/9: Total Recall
9/8: Legal Illegals
9/7: 116 More Days
Previous months in The Archive

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