Chargers Fans Have Changed

Posted by on December 16th, 2014  •  0 Comments  • 

They are going away for the final two weeks of the NFL season, road games at San Francisco and Kansas City, must win games, to keep a flickering playoff hope alive, knowing full-well they need some help now to have any of their mail sent to the ‘post-season’.
 
But in the aftermath of the back-to-back home losses to New England and Denver, comes, the real question.  
 
What has happened to the fans who come to see the San Diego Chargers?  
 
Qualcomm Stadium may have many shortcomings.  It is crumbling badly.  It needs to be razed, not retro-fitted. But beyond its problems, it has seats to be filled.  Seats that used to be filled by Chargers fans everywhere.
 
Those seats have been replaced by fans with strange Cape Cod accents (New England Patriots), and fans wearing Orange (Denver Broncos).  It was never so more apparent than the last two weekends, when big plays by Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, big stops made by a Patriots or Broncos secondary, were applauded by the fans in the stands.
 
Something has changed in San Diego, always a melting pot of people moving here from somewhere else.  Fans coming here with emotional attachments to teams back home. 
 
Chargers crowds in the recent years have become less and less passionate, because fans in the stands are getting thier tickets from longtime season ticket holders, selling them at a profit to total strangers.
 
Is there an explanation to all this?
 
The NFL, with the ever-fast growing relationship with Direct TV, and its Red Zone Channel, makes it more convenient to stay home, and watch the games.  If the Chargers play poorly or are losing, you can always switch to another game.  If your team is getting blown out on Channel 711, you can always go up the Direct TV dial, and find something more interesting.
 
Easier to stay home, eat your own food, and choose the game you want.  The stadium experience isn’t what it used to be, granted a seat is a seat, but the drunk behind you,  the traffic jam in and out, or the just the parking-ticket fees, makes the home game in your living room more acceptable.
 
Maybe it is a spillover effect from the AJ Smith-Norv Turner error-era, and the fact the town has never forgiven Team Spanos for allowing the GM and Coach to run off tremendously popular and productive players, LaDanian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Vincent Jackson, who have never been replaced.
 
It just does not feel the same any more, not like the Martyball era, or the Bobby Ross-Bobby Beathard led era, and the teams that ended the ‘Decade of Decline’ and got to the Super Bowl.
 
Maybe it’s the threat Team Spanos will up and move in the middle of the night to Los Angeles, though I don’t think that is realistic, not for that benevolent owner, despite the frustrations and lack of traction to find financing for a new stadium.
 
In the end, the Philip Rivers era, record setting as it is, seems close to ending.  Failing to make the playoffs four times in five years, means the franchise is really heading towards rebuilding.  And that does not bode well, for lagging fan support is now part of the conversation about the future of the team.
 
Something is very different now at the Q.  The fans passion is waning, the team is wanting for quality talent, and boos from the home town fans are dwarfed now by the cheers of the visiting fans who bought your tickets to sit in your seats to cheer for their team.
 
Defensive end Corey Liuget put it simply, ‘it feels like we played 16-road games this year’.  Scorn was heaped on Coach Mike McCoy last week, when he told fans not to sell thier tickets, but to sit in their own seats.
 
The town has changed.  The team has surely changed.  The atmosphere inside the stadium has changed.
 
The Chargers are facing big obstacles:  roster, stadium, and now the loss of the most important part of the franchise,  Bolt Blue passion. 
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