Option 1: Her Best Friend
You would be remiss not to first turn to this: root against the team at every opportunity. No, I’m not talking about suddenly jumping into the spikes-and-skulls clad fray of Raider Nation, no matter where that organization ends up playing their 2017 season. That would be a crime even the most heartbroken of Bolts backers would struggle to be forgiven for. But if you can’t have your ex, why not have her best friend, that other professional football franchise Los Angeles stole in the last twelve months? At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with the idea. The team plays in a better stadium – a historic one in fact – in the L.A. Coliseum. The roster has a strong D, a developing offense anchored by two first rounders in Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, and the youngest coach in the league in Sean McVay. Plus, those uniforms that act as a throwback to the ‘80s? Eye candy for sure. They even lost some weight since the last time you saw them in the form of the firing of a head coaching has-been. You might feel guilty about it after the fact, but in the moment? There’s not much to lose.
Option 2: The Girl Next Door
You know, the one who always was a fun time but also always felt familiar enough that a real romantic interest would be awkward and unfair. Maybe they’re not quite as popular as the last girl, not quite as capable of stopping a room in its tracks when she walks through the door. And what if they leave too? You’d lose one of your best friends. Well, you can be sure that the San Diego Gulls and San Diego State Aztecs are here for the long haul. The Gulls function only as a minor league affiliate for another franchise; stadium issues and financial concerns would be laughable in anything but the most extreme of circumstances. Meanwhile, the Aztecs are the girl you grew up with, the one that went away to college for a few years and came back grown up and ready to wow. After back-to-back Mountain West Conference titles, and on the verge of beginning possible construction on a new stadium, the Aztecs and head coach Rocky Long appear poised to grab a seat at the table with college football’s strongest. Both offer a cheaper, funner (heck yeah I’m making up words) game day experience than the Chargers ever could. No, your support may not turn heads at the bar or the water cooler. But at the heart of the meaning of sports – enjoying a few hours immersed in athletic excellence and avoiding the pressures of real life – these two more than meet the requirements.
Option 3: The High School Fling
So you haven’t paid attention to the Padres in a while. That’s okay. You went away to school, started a career, and were focused on climbing the monetized mess of a corporate ladder that is the NFL. But there came a point in time when you realized the frustrating fact that the cards might have been stacked against you, or that what success in that world required of you was something you weren’t as willing to compromise on as you thought you were. Now, you’re ready to give it another shot with your first love, the National Pastime. You’re in luck: they’re ready for you. No, they haven’t been good for a few years; their last playoff appearance just celebrated its tenth anniversary. They won’t be good this year, and they won’t be good the year after that. But the pieces are starting to come together. Wil Myers, a onetime top prospect finally fulfilling his potential, just signed a six-year extension. Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe (*insert Clemson receiver joke here*) are preparing for runs at the Rookie of the Year award this summer. Several prospects – Josh Naylor, Anderson Espinoza, and Cal Quantrill are just a few – remain waiting in the wings, developing into the talented major leaguers scouts hope they’ll become. You may have forgotten about the Friars the last few years, but if the Chargers’ trip north hasn’t turned you off professional sports entirely, Petco Park is a place you’ll want to be for years to come.
Option 4: Celibacy
Which brings us to Option 4: no one (at least for now). Maybe this break-up has hit you harder than most. Maybe you’ve lost faith in loving the money-mongering of sports’ highest ranks. Maybe you need to spend a few months backpacking through Europe (or Torrey Pines) to “find yourself.” Whatever it is, swearing off sports is certainly an option as well. Life has plenty to offer away from the playing field – families, employment, or educational excellence, etc., etc. You could write a bestseller about the time your football team left town. You could run for office and try to become the mayor San Diego should have had during this saga. You could learn any number of languages or musical instruments. The point is, if you’re sick of sports, I can’t say I fault you.
I can also say, though, that if you have spent any time at all perusing the pages of the East Village Times, you likely won’t be able to stay away from sports for long. That leads us to our final option…
Option 5: You Just Haven’t Met Her Yet
By losing half of our professional sports teams at the snap of a finger, San Diego instantly became a target for league expansions across athletic lines. Live-entertainment power AEG has expressed an interest in bringing an NBA or NHL franchise here. The NFL surely still wants to have America’s Finest City as a tourist attraction from August to February. Perhaps the biggest opportunity of all is the chance of an MLS team accompanying the addition of an SDSU stadium to Mission Valley, a cause taken up by Padres lead investor Peter Seidler. My personal opinion is that an MLS team in one of the true soccer-starved regions of the United States is as much a no-brainer as a perfect evening of fish tacos and craft beer in the Gaslamp Quarter. Ultimately, though, whatever league it is, there will be new teams and new sports to embrace as part of the fabric of the city’s sporting traditions.
The San Diego Chargers, always and forever, will be a part of that fabric as well. There’s no changing that.
But you know what? Ultimately, they weren’t the one for you. That last girl had one foot out the door for a few years now, and as a sports fan you deserve better than that. It wasn’t a clean break, and there will likely be times where you’ll want to give it another shot with the selfish girl who broke your heart, rooting for Rivers and Gates as they finish their careers and Gordon and Bosa as they begin theirs. That’s certainly an option, although, as demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t make it into the list above, it’s not one I personally will endorse or follow through on. Spanos screwed the city of San Diego, and until the team is back inside county lines and under new ownership, they will not have my support.
But that doesn’t mean other teams won’t, whether they play on the gridiron, the hardcourt, or the diamond.
Like your mom told you all those years ago: there’s plenty of fish in the sea.