There was a brief time, in 2015 and 2016, when I tried really hard to be a LA Galaxy fan. Only for Steven Gerrard, but there is such a wealth of sports history here in Los Angeles that as a transplant, I wanted to give myself to this little bit of the city. It was my way of trying to make myself more of an Angeleno, even as I felt acutely like an outsider.
The fact is that I’ve always been a Houston sports fan. That’s where I grew up, and they have always been the underdogs. The Astros never won a World Series while I was there, the Oilers had the distinction of giving up the biggest lead in NFL in history (seriously, look up The Comeback Game) before being sold to become the Tennessee Titans, and the Rockets - though they were two time NBA Champions in the 90’s - probably only achieved that because that’s when Michael Jordan was playing baseball.
I’m used to sports disappointment. I’m used to watching my teams lose.
So I always looked at Los Angeles sports with a little bit of bitterness, a little bit of disdain. Probably a little bit of jealousy.
At least the Dodgers were just as bad throughout my lifetime. The Lakers dominated for so long, though, that it only added to it. Even the Galaxy are the team with the most MLS titles, when the Houston Dynamo have two.
Deep down, I knew that becoming a LA sports fan would be giving up the pride I had at rooting for the Houston underdogs. Even as my Houston teams tried, and mostly succeeded at becoming good (cheating scandal aside), I could never let them go. It felt like a betrayal to the teams that had given me so much (and so many tears) over the years.
Now it’s 2020, and this year has been the most unique year in sports. The Covid pandemic has turned everything on its head. Baseball played half a season without fans, NBA and WNBA played in a bubble, NFL and MLS are going on as usual just without fans. NWSL shortened their season into a bubble and a tournament (that Houston won)!
Even as this year has been so full of tragedy, especially for LA sports, the city were given two things to celebrate. Two championships, brought back to the city, after really going without for so long. The Lakers clinched the NBA Championship a couple weeks ago, their first in ten years, and then Tuesday night the Dodgers finally broke their 32 year old drought (literally the same age as me) as they finally brought the World Series trophy back to Los Angeles.
There are parties in the streets, fireworks going off everywhere, and people (mostly) masked as they celebrate. And in truth, I am excited. I’m excited for my friends that are so devoted to these teams, because they have grown up with them. Even the ones that have given me flack for being an Astros fan, I know what this means to them, what they’ve gone through to get to this moment. That waiting is so hard, even as you hold a bit of pride because you’ve been a fan through the bad times.
I may never join them, no matter how long I live here (and I plan on living here for a long time), but the sports devotion in Los Angeles is something to appreciate. Especially coming from a city that, while they love their teams, never really had a lot to celebrate with them. There are fans here, all over. Dodgers fans, Lakers fans, Clippers fans, Kings fans, even the few Rams fans. The pride in these teams, in how they represent this city, runs so deep. It’s almost infectious, even to my bitter Houstonian heart.
And now, finally, there is something to truly celebrate for this city, for these fans. Even though they probably shouldn’t be celebrating together, they are out there in the streets, because this city has finally been given something to celebrate.
All of this is not even mentioning that the NWSL will finally be coming to Los Angeles - another team for the city to get behind.
And that’s that the one I plan on joining.
For now, I hope the city can take comfort in these historic wins, as things get uncertain again with the pandemic. I hope these fireworks don’t start any wildfires, and I hope that the cases don’t rise because of these celebrations. I think everyone would like to celebrate properly as soon as we can.