Friday Query: The Rams, Football, and Thinking Beyond the Box (On Wheels)

Do you remember the day the Rams announced they were packing their team bags and leaving Los Angeles? I am talking about the first move, the one that took them to Anaheim? It was 1980 - yes I had to look it up, but I am thinking in more figurative terms anyway. For me, 1980 marks the year I gave up on the National Football League. It was the year I graduated from High School, and the year I realized that professional football was a business and not the sport I had always thought it to be. Home was the Valley, but the Valley was were all the people who worked in LA lived. Thusly, and 1+1+2, the Rams were my team.

Before that date I was a true to the core Rams fan - Roman Gabriel, JackYoungblood, Jack Snow, Fred Dryer, Lawrence McCutcheon, Cullen Bryant, Dave Elmendorf, Merlin Olsen, Jack Reynolds, Rich Saul. During those years of the 70s I could have named them all, and I stuck with them through solid seasons and playoff flops. It didn't matter, they were my team and I would support them to the end. The End turned out to be different than any I ever envisioned. That end involved a realization that they did not care a whit about me, and that realization has reverberated over the years. It is the reason I continue to struggle with any degree of fan support for the Holy Trinity Leagues of American sport.

Well now, water under the bridge as they say. 

I have rarely given thought to the NFL since that time.

Transition. Transition. Transition.

I was perusing some of the letters to the editor (Los Angeles Times) the other day; I have long preferred them to the papers' own editorials, coming as they do from your average Joe and Jane. Know what I mean? I see money behind the papers' editorials, where-as The Letters are unsolicited, unpaid, from people with a level of passion about whatever topic of the day compels them to pick up quill and papyrus, to take the time to organize and compose their thoughts. Then share them

Anyway, one particular letter concerned the on-again, off-again threat to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles. But the letter writer had a different take on the matter - not the usual who actually benefits and who pays the bills arguments we have become used to hearing over the past twenty years (the Rams moved again from Anaheim to St. Louis - the final straw - in 1994. I looked that up as well). No, this letter writer, said that if the NFL moved into downtown per the Anschutz plan, freeways would need to be widened, automobile capacity increased. As a member of the average Jane Q. Public, I suspect the letter writer is not alone with those thoughts, I am sure many others hold them in common.

going in circles, nothing changes

My immediate response was, "my god, do we never learn?" Why is travel by private automobile always the go to response to a transportation problem? Because increasing capacity has always worked so well in the past? The car, the automatic, knee-jerk reaction. How can you solve a problem with the cause of that problem - there are too many cars, so lets make it easier to bring even more in. Can you think of another example in which society responds in a similar fashion? If you can, I suspect they also are related to the automobile industry - pollution, resource extraction, obesity, community fragmentation - all problems that relate, at least in part, to the automobile, and our inability to think in any other terms.

There is an obvious disconnect between what needs to be done and what we actually do, the response of the addict who continues to follow the same path, the same choices, even when he clearly sees where that path is leading him. Is there a realistic path for Los Angeles that does not involve the automotive hegemony? Will I see it in my lifetime?