NBC 7's Derek Togerson looks at the perception of San Diego as a sports town in this commentary
Congratulations to the City of Cleveland. There is probably not a city that needed a championship more than that town by the lake in northern Ohio. It had been a long, long, long time (52 years, to be exact) since any of their major professional sports franchises had won a title.
It is in some way inevitable that we start to look at other cities that have fallen on hard sports times and of course San Diego is in that conversation. I’ve heard it on sports talk radio and seen it on social media, people lamenting the fact America’s Finest City has yet to win any major sports title.
Does it suck that we’re sans championships? Sure, it sucks. But do NOT, even for a minute, start comparing our situation to Cleveland’s.
For decades Cleveland has, for most of the rest of the country, been a punchline: Their river caught on fire. Their violent crime rate is off the charts. Johnny Manziel.
Cleveland sports fans have had it rough. Really rough. Between the Cavs always losing to Michael Jordan and the Browns getting John Elway’d and the Indians getting Jose Mesa’d, C-Town sporting supporters have rightfully felt like they’ve been cursed. After a while it simply became a fact of life and the fan base became perpetually miserable.
I even heard this joke once: What’s the difference between a Cleveland sports fan and a baby? The baby stops whining after a while. (Yes, the person who said it was from Pittsburgh)
Add in the seemingly eight months of nasty weather and Cleveland is a town that finds its pride, if not its identity, in its sports franchises. And THAT is why San Diego is in no way in desperate need of a championship like Cleveland was.
For the sports fans in our town, sure, the lack of a title is extremely painful. I have friends who could have paid off their mortgages with the money they’ve spent on Chargers and Padres season tickets but they continue to support the local teams in hopes of being there when a championship trophy is finally held high. Sports fans in San Diego are as loyal a group as I’ve ever seen.
But unlike Cleveland, that passion does not extend to the entire community. In The Land EVERYBODY has skin in the game. They all, from the long-time Browns fans to the suburban housewives, feel better after a win and worse after a loss. In San Diego the majority of people like it when the local teams win but another year without a title is not emotionally crushing. Our identity is in our weather, our beaches, our zoo, even our craft beer.
This is not to diminish the awesomeness that would be experiencing a championship here. I’m hoping against hope I get to see one in my lifetime. But let’s pump the brakes on saying San Diego has overtaken Cleveland as the most impotent pro sports town in America.
That label goes to Buffalo.