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  #1  
Old 21.01.2019, 09:57 PM
egansmind egansmind is offline
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Default LA Identity crisis

Can someone explain why the Chargers and the Rams find it difficult to gather large support from the people of Los Angeles?

I understand there is a huge following for college football there so why not an NFL franchise especially as both teams have picked up over the last 2 seasons
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Old 22.01.2019, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by egansmind View Post
Can someone explain why the Chargers and the Rams find it difficult to gather large support from the people of Los Angeles?

I understand there is a huge following for college football there so why not an NFL franchise especially as both teams have picked up over the last 2 seasons
I'll have a go at this. I think the first thing to say is that the Rams and Chargers are not identical: the Rams do have quite a big fanbase in Los Angeles. They were there for 50 years, after all. It's the Chargers who have the real problem.

Reasons include:

- LA pro football fans are not Chargers fans. They are either Rams fans, or Raiders fans, from the 80s/90s, or fans from other teams.

- The Chargers have never had a presence in Los Angeles (their initial year in the early 60s in LA was not going to win them legacy fans over 50 years later). They were San Diego's team. To be honest it was never one of the best fanbases when in San Diego either.

- Not having a team for 20 years means a lot of people in LA support other NFL franchises. Mostly whoever has been on TV/high profile. That isn't really the Chargers, and it wasn't the Rams either while the Rams were in St Louis. In addition, a lot of people in LA are from elsewhere. People from the north-east or midwest are going to stick to their Giants or Bears or Patriots or whatever.

- LA has a lot going on besides pro football, and for 20 years got used to not having pro football. Some towns like Boston or New York are baseball first; others like Pittsburgh or New Orleans are football first. I would say LA is basketball first - the Lakers - when it comes to pro sports. And the LA Dodgers are close behind. They had the highest average attendance in MLB last year.

- Then there is college football. LA is pretty unique in terms of major US cities in having a mega college football team in USC (plus UCLA isn't bad either). These teams were there long before pro football arrived, have stayed there and USC in particular has been quite successful historically. It's important to remember that Americans don't see college football as inferior to the NFL. They are just different. It's not like supporting a Championship level soccer club here. In LA, college football is what people prefer. In most other big cities, people tend to prefer pro football. Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Florida, and probably Louisiana too, are other states with NFL franchises where state-wide (not always in the city where the NFL franchise is itself) people tend to prefer college football to pro football.

- LA is a city where there is plenty to do besides sports. Lifestyle, fashion, the beach, the weather, theme parks, Hollywood etc etc etc. You tend to find that in these kind of cities in America, the fans are a lot less die hard than they are in places like Buffalo or Kansas City or Cleveland where, frankly, there isn't a lot else going on. You see the same phenomenon in Miami, in Tampa and you saw it in San Diego when the Chargers were there. You especially see this when the team is bad. Which I know neither LA pro football is right now.

Logically, LA should have probably had just 1 team. The Rams were the logical choice. The 2nd team was really borne out of the disaster that has been California stadiums, with both the Raiders and Chargers unable to find a solution in their home markets. In terms of existing fanbase, that second team should definitely have been the Raiders. But the NFL seemed to want to do the Spanos family a favour more than it did Mark Davis. So the Chargers moved and the Raiders are going to Las Vegas.

The other thing is that it takes time for a team to bed down in a market, and especially a 2nd team, which the Chargers are. The Jets have never caught up with the Giants, who got there first. Last time I saw a fan map there wasn't a single county in New York or New Jersey where Jets fans outnumbered Giants fans. The Jets still have good attendance, but tickets are less in demand than for their neighbours. New York and LA are very different markets, though. Maybe over time, the Chargers will win fans. Maybe they won't. San Diego was never an NFL hotbed but personally I wish they could have found a solution to stay down there and keep one team in LA.
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Old 22.01.2019, 09:45 AM
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The question of sports preference is different cities or different parts of America is quite an interesting one. It really does vary from place to place and it seems to be part cultural, part historical, part success of the teams. Throughout the US, it is clear that football is the dominant sport these days. It overtook baseball at about the time of the merger in 1970 and the difference is getting bigger, not smaller. 7 of the top 10 most-watched shows on TV in America in 2018 were NFL games, with the Super Bowl trouncing everything else, as per usual. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ed_States#2018 . The only other sporting event in top 10 was college football - the National Championship game.

However, this doesn't mean that NFL is bigger everywhere, or indeed that it is even the most popular code of football everywhere.

As a general rule, NFL tends to be popular in the metropolitan areas, where these teams almost all play. College football is often more popular in less built up areas. People in New York or Boston, for example, do not tend to be massively into college football. LA is the major exception.

In the north-east, pro football dominates. In the mid-west and the south, fans tend to prefer college football. Take as an example Pennsylvania. Both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have college football teams who play in the same stadium as the NFL franchises. Neither is anything close to being as big a deal as the Steelers or Eagles. Penn State, in central PA, gets some of the largest attendances anywhere in America for home games, but Pennsylvania is still an NFL-first state. Over in Ohio, however, Ohio State is the big deal. The Browns are more popular in Cleveland, but not state wide, and in Cincinnati I would say college football is more popular than pro football. Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida all have NFL franchises but more people prefer college football. And of course in the states where there is a good college team and no NFL franchise, like Oregon, Oklahoma or Alabama, college football tends to be the preference. It depends though. Wisconsin is a decent team but cannot compete with the Packers; Illinois can't compete with the Bears.

Among pro sports too, the preference of fans in the major cities really can vary. Despite their recent success, I still don't think the majority of Boston sports fans would put the Patriots above the Red Sox, or perhaps the Celtics. Which isn't to say the Patriots aren't popular, but the preference is for baseball. New York City's number 1 sport is baseball too. So is San Francisco's. When St Louis had the Rams, they were a distant second to the Cardinals in baseball. I think for many in Chicago, the Cubs are the city's premier franchise too. Looking at MLB home attendances gives you an idea of where baseball is still more popular: https://www.baseball-reference.com/l...018-misc.shtml

There are some cities where all the franchises are well liked and get good attendances (like New York), albeit some are more favoured than others. In other cities there is a clear drop off. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are first, the Penguins are a close second, and the Pirates are a very distant third. In Detroit, hockey is right up there. In Indianapolis, the Pacers are right up there. You'd imagine hockey franchises in Texas and Arizona are just making up the numbers.
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Old 22.01.2019, 09:46 AM
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Great Post.

I question even the viability of the LA Rams. A cousin of mine is a Saints season ticket holder and attended the play-off game on Sunday and reckoned there were only around 500 Rams fans in attendance. Seems a poor turn out for such a crunch game.
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Old 22.01.2019, 10:36 AM
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The only thing I would wonder about the excellent post above is to what extent the college game also had a grip in the other major cities back in the day. As I understand it there were lots of decent college teams in New York before World War II and that Chicago and Penn were also major powers even during the period that the NFL was beginning. Football being de-emphasised in those universities must have helped significantly.

At the most basic level it seems like pro football follows the same pattern as football over here, in that its heartlands are the major industrial centres and that it originally drew its most passionate followings from the places which had that character most intensely (DC being an exception). Because LA rose slightly later in history it never had quite the same industrial heritage as the major cities on the East Coast and Midwest and therefore never quite took in the same way. Not sure how true that is but it's a theory I'd throw out there.

Not exactly on topic but I recently read an excellent book "The League" by John Eisenberg which deals with the NFL between about 1925 and 1958 focusing on the main owners of the time and gives a real flavour of how and why the NFL rose as it did.
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Old 23.01.2019, 07:46 PM
egansmind egansmind is offline
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Fantastic stuff ! Really interesting
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Old 23.01.2019, 09:15 PM
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Really good read.
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Old 23.01.2019, 09:27 PM
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WSJ reported the TV ratings in the LA area for the championship games where
saints/Rams 2.1m
Chiefs/Patriots 2.5m

maybe in the decade plus without an NFL team to follow the LA fans just got used to watching the games they just liked the most.
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Old 23.01.2019, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by lee harris 10 View Post
WSJ reported the TV ratings in the LA area for the championship games where
saints/Rams 2.1m
Chiefs/Patriots 2.5m

maybe in the decade plus without an NFL team to follow the LA fans just got used to watching the games they just liked the most.
I think so. It is also easier to watch what you want these days than it used to be. And people are also more mobile and flock to the major cities. I live and work in London but very few of the people I work with were actually born there, be that from elsewhere in the country or abroad. Based on our work fantasy football league, the most popular team in the office is Manchester United. And London hasn't lost its football teams.

I guess we should also state for the record that nationwide the Patriots game received quite a bit higher audience figures than the Saints-Rams game, and to be honest much of that is simply the time of day. The later game nearly always gets the better figures. Last year the NFC game was later. Saints-Rams kicked off at 12:40pm Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Cowboys in particular have long had a big fanbase in southern California. Whether that's the historic Super Bowl wins, the general glitz of that franchise, the rivalry with the 49ers, or the fact that the Cowboys often hold training camp near LA.


Quote:
Originally Posted by djhdjh View Post
The only thing I would wonder about the excellent post above is to what extent the college game also had a grip in the other major cities back in the day. As I understand it there were lots of decent college teams in New York before World War II and that Chicago and Penn were also major powers even during the period that the NFL was beginning. Football being de-emphasised in those universities must have helped significantly.

At the most basic level it seems like pro football follows the same pattern as football over here, in that its heartlands are the major industrial centres and that it originally drew its most passionate followings from the places which had that character most intensely (DC being an exception). Because LA rose slightly later in history it never had quite the same industrial heritage as the major cities on the East Coast and Midwest and therefore never quite took in the same way. Not sure how true that is but it's a theory I'd throw out there.

Not exactly on topic but I recently read an excellent book "The League" by John Eisenberg which deals with the NFL between about 1925 and 1958 focusing on the main owners of the time and gives a real flavour of how and why the NFL rose as it did.
These are really interesting points.

I guess the counter of that would be if you look at the other sports, those also got to the west coast later. The Lakers relocated to LA from Minneapolis in 1947, which is a year later than the Rams came from Cleveland. The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn in 1957. Both Dodgers and Lakers seem to be more engrained and popular in LA. Though the secondary teams in LA in both sports, the Angels and Clippers, are consistently less popular in terms of fanbase and attendance. Meanwhile, up the road, the Seattle Seahawks don't appear until the 1970s but the fanbase there is as rabid as any. I've been to Seattle and it is the only place I've been in America besides Pittsburgh where you'll see hundreds of people on non-game days wearing some sort of Seahawks gear. It's part of the DNA of the city even though that franchise only arrived about 45 years ago.

There are definitely differences in the attitudes and psyche of Americans in different parts of America though, certainly. Broadly speaking you can probably call it the north east, the midwest, the south and the west coast, but that's a slight oversimplification. I think LA is a special case by itself really. It is an odd city in many respects.
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Old 24.01.2019, 02:43 PM
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Part of the problem here is that, from a business perspective, the NFL was desperate to get back to Los Angeles. However, I don't think enough thought was given as to why both the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in the first place.

The Rams are reasonably popular now, but it is still easy to get a ticket for a Rams home game, as they are never sold out. Bearing in mind that this is after they had a great year last season, I dread to think what will happen to the attendances if they have a bad season!

But why the NFL decided to put 2 teams in an unproven market I have no idea. The Chargers play at the smallest venue in the NFL and it is packed with away fans every week because no-one in LA wants to watch the Chargers.
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