Here in Southern California, we have plenty of entertainment options. Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. There are good looking people, great weather, Hollywood, beaches, mountains, deserts and great sports. They all rival each other for our entertainment dollar and will continue to compete in this fashion for the foreseeable future.
From a sports fan perspective, it’s no different. Los Angeles has its fair share of great rivalries: UCLA and USC, Lakers and Clippers, Kings and Ducks, Dodgers and Angels. So let’s ask, given the Rams and Chargers recent move back to L.A., do we add them to this list? In truth, these franchises are in a state of ambivalence toward each other. They’ve never met in any important matchups and play in different conferences. But without question, this ambivalence will change over time just like it did for the existing rivalries. Here’s why:
First, it will change because sports fans won’t have it any other way. The overwhelming majority of fans support only one team in each sport. For example, when’s the last time you heard someone say they liked the Trojans and Bruins or the Dodgers and Angels? It’s rare. In fact, it’s more common to hear someone talk about why they hate their rival than it is to hear why they like their own team. The Rams-Chargers rivalry isn’t there yet, but give it time.
Secondly, it will be one year closer to the to when these teams start sharing a stadium. It might be different if the leasing situation was like the Lakers and Clippers. They both lease from the L.A. Kings. But in this case, the Chargers will lease from the Rams, which gives Ram fans an added verbal cheap shot at Charger fans.
Lastly, and most importantly, both teams have a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl title this season. Recent offseason activity and solid drafting have carried these teams up the power rankings. Last season, the Rams won their division and the Chargers barely missed the playoffs due to a slow start. These teams are well-coached, balanced on both sides of scrimmage and have Pro-Bowl talent everywhere.
The NFLs’ version of the battle for Los Angeles has begun. We hear it in sports bars, on television, on the radio and we see it online. What a coincidence that the Rams and Chargers would be on the brink of greatness at the same time. Barring injury, these teams will be “in the hunt” in December and we can expect Ram and Charger fans to ramp up the hatred of one another accordingly.