It’s been roughly four days since our beloved football team announced that they were heading up the I-5 North to Los Angeles.
The reports in early January from many football insiders gave me hope that the Chargers were staying put. Then, with one tweet from Adam Schefter, everything had changed.
Initially, I was heartbroken. Many of my close friends and family members were heartbroken. The San Diego Chargers were always something that brought people together in this community. My heart breaks for the true football fans of San Diego, it breaks for fathers who wanted to experience a San Diego Chargers football game with their child, and make it a tradition.
The move hurts. There is no way around it. The community of San Diego loved the Chargers. However, the way that the city has responded to this has been exceptional. Instead of moping around, and being upset, the city responded in many ways that have caught my eye and have made me proud to be a part of America’s finest city.
Charger fans were understandably upset by the move, and wanted to let their anger out by burning their jerseys or throwing them in the trash. Although this may help release anger, that is all it really does. These jerseys and shirts can be used to provide clothing, and warmth to the homeless. That is exactly what San Diego radio station 91X decided to do. 91X offered to swap Chargers’ jerseys and shirts, in exchange for a 91X shirt. The catch is that 91X promised to donate every Charger jersey to the homeless that they received. This was a very savvy move by 91X, as not only did they brand themselves by giving away free 91X shirts, but they provided tons of jerseys and shirts to the homeless. This was the first of many positive responses by our great city to the heartbreaking news.
The donation of wear to the homeless was amazing, but it does not stop there. The Chargers left their lease early, and as a result they must pay an early termination fee of roughly $12.5 million. A citizen of San Diego has called for 100% of that money to provide housing for the homeless through the company, “Housing first”.
The city of San Diego struggles mightily with overpopulation of the homeless on the streets, especially in Downtown San Diego. This petition is alive and well, and can be signed and viewed here: https://www.change.org/p/san-diego-mayor-kevin-faulconer-use-chargers-termination-fee-to-provide-housing?recruiter=51547242&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=des-sm-share_petition-no_msg. This is not set in stone, and obviously needs the help of all of us, but it is another positive response.
On a sports note, there is obviously nothing that can replace our San Diego Chargers. Although, there is already active discussions between Mayor Faulconer and the MLS Commissioner, Don Garber. Garber has noted that they know investors and the city very well, and they are interested in an expansion to San Diego. Garber has gone even further, saying, “I think it would be a great MLS city”. Shoot, it’s not football but it is fútbol. Major League Soccer has been trending in the right direction, and the MLS and San Diego alike could benefit from the expansion. The San Diego Gulls, a minor league hockey team, have been successful, and the games are a blast for fans and the support is definitely not lacking. The city of San Diego deserves more than one professional sports team, and bringing MLS to San Diego won’t make us forget about the Chargers, but it will certainly help heal the wound.
The last thing is that the San Diego Padres are alive and well. Hours after the Chargers announced they would become the L.A. Chargers, the Padres announced two major moves. A.J. Preller, and the Padres came to terms on long-term deals with two fan favorites. The Padres were able to avoid arbitration and ink Yan Solarte to a two-year deal, with two club options at a very reasonable price. The Padres, reportedly, also were able to the sign the face of the franchise, Wil Myers, to a six-year deal. Myers and Solarte are two big pieces that love being in San Diego, and we love them back.
There is no recipe to overcome heartbreak. It is how you respond and overcome the heartbreak that really shows how strong you are. I believe that San Diego, as a whole, has responded in many positive ways. By no means am I saying to get over it, I am just calling for the community as a whole to continue to find ways to make our city the best it can be. Mayor Faulconer said it best, “San Diego didn’t lose the Chargers. The Chargers lost San Diego.”