Hey L.A.! Did you hear the good news? Pro football is coming back! And by that, of course, I mean the L.A. KISS are about to start a new season!
"You wanted the best?!?!? You got this instead!!!!"
Oh, and the NFL is coming, too! After more than two decades without a franchise here, the Rams are coming back to Los Angeles. Congratulations! As the NFL's second-biggest media market, you deserve it. But before you grab your oversized foam finger and start trash-talking other football cities, you might want to examine if you really want this or not. For a plethora of reasons, professional football and Los Angeles just aren't meant for each other. For example ...
5We Have Way Too Many Leisure Options Already
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The 2016 season marks the return of the Rams professional football team from St. Louis to the City of Angels, where they have an almost 50-year history. Sure, that history includes only one measly, unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl, back in '79, and then a subsequent dash straight out of South Central Los Angeles to the city of Anaheim, deep in the bowels of Orange County, but it's still a history.
So what would make a winning team run from their hometown so soon after a Super Bowl appearance? Apathy. Even with a killer season, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum rarely sold out, tripping the blackout of Rams games on local television. Everyone is remembering that rule exists, right? If the Rams don't sell out, residents of Los Angeles likely won't be able to see the games on television. That's how the NFL works. It's a rule meant to encourage people to spend way more money to watch games in the worst live sports environment possible instead of staying home on the couch like a bunch of lazy sacks. (The blackout rules were lifted temporarily for the 2015 season, but they have not been permanently removed.)
It wasn't just a problem with the Rams, either. Back in the '90s when the Raiders were also playing in Los Angeles, running back Bo Jackson (along with Nike) had to purchase the remaining 9,000 tickets to a second-round AFC playoff match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals just so the game could be televised in the local market.
Bo knows skirting NFL blackout restrictions.
Anecdote: One year I had access to eight season tickets for the Chargers at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium. Amazing seats: 30 yard line, row 10 (the first row available on the field with unobstructed views). Excited to share my good fortune with others, I offered seats to any friends interested in attending. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to go to a completely free NFL game. If I did manage to convince a group to go, most wanted to leave by halftime to do something "more fun," and this was a year San Diego actually made it to the playoffs.
Part of the problem is there is just too much to do in Los Angeles. Locals have tons of leisure options, and for the most part, it really is too nice to sit in a stadium for the first three months of the season. By the time playoff drives start and colder weather makes it more appealing to sit around watching games, if the local team isn't doing well there's no reason to start investing time in them.
For the record, the Rams are almost never doing well.
Unlike places where Sunday's game is the main event and the other option is shoveling your driveway, on a beautiful sunny day, most people in Southern California would rather be outside doing California things.
That desirable climate means Los Angeles may have the deck stacked against them when it comes to the competition aspect of the game as well. According to a recent study, cold weather cities seem to have an advantage once the weather takes a turn for the worse. Even if that tips the scale only slightly, there's a good chance it will be more than enough to turn a lot of people off, because ...
4The Social Climate Is Unfavorable
Everyone loves a winner, and Los Angeles is no exception. But even stronger than a love for winners is a contempt for losers. In an industry town built on a "What have you done lately?" mentality, the scrappy train isn't something Angelenos are eager to hitch their wagons to. While other cities can bide their time and handle rooting for an underdog year after year, Los Angeles has little patience for mediocrity or, even worse, failure.
Los Angeles has a reputation for being full of schmoozers, sharpies, and aggressive networkers. In a city where you need to constantly promote yourself socially and/or business-wise, the NBA makes more sense than the NFL. You need only to look at how the respective coaches of each league dress for work to spot the obvious difference.
This is NBA coach Gregg Popovich. Notice the lack of cutoff sleeves.
A pro basketball coach is outfitted in a suit and tie and wouldn't look out of place in a boardroom or speaking at a shareholders meeting. Contrast that with the casual, logo-intense frump gear favored by most pro football coaches. These team leaders appear more ready to tackle an all-you-can-eat buffet than a business deal. This aesthetic also trickles down to the attendees. Professional basketball games start later (around 7:30 p.m. local time) and take place indoors. People arrive post-work dressed up, looking to make contacts or plans for a night out. Juxtapose that with tailgaters in their team jerseys and body paint heading to an NFL game ready to do keg stands and eat barbecue over exhaust fumes. It's basically asking the people of Los Angeles to consider living like Midwesterners for a day. Not gonna happen.
Angelenos also need a simple path to follow celebrity, and there are just too many players on a football team. In basketball everyone knows the starting lineup and at least two of those players have A-list status that rival the celebrities watching them in the stands. Unless you land a Tom Brady-level name recognition player, no one is going care about the multitude of personalities you need to keep track of on a football team.