25,000. 56,000. 81,000.
Those three numbers are the only thing you need to ascertain just how poorly the National Football League is doing in Los Angeles.
The first number represents a laughable attendance for the Chargers’ home-opener, the second number is a lackluster (but better) showing from the Rams in a game against the Washington Redskins, and third is the number of fans that packed the Coliseum for a bout between USC and Texas.
That’s right: A single college football game had the same amount of fans as not one, but two NFL games.
To be fair, maybe the Chargers deserve a bit of slack due to the small size of their temporary home. After all, the venue only sits 27,000–they’re not exactly in a great position to set attendance records. However, that excuse becomes invalid after comparing the number of seats filled to seats available. Failing to sell out a stadium of 27,000 is not just disappointing, it’s flat-out embarrassing. Bad views aren’t to blame either, as most of the empty seats are scattered across some of the best sections. It’s a lack of people; nothing more, nothing less.
In the Rams’ case, there are no excuses to be made. They play on the same field as the USC Trojans, yet they were 25,000 people shy of matching up with their college counterpart. Coming off of a season where the Rams ranked second in attendance across the league, the 2017-2018 season has been an unfortunate fall from grace.
For both of these teams, there’s one underlying question: Where did it all go wrong? Just a year ago, the Chargers and Rams were doing exponentially better for themselves. The former was thriving in San Diego, and the latter was booming in their first season as a part of Los Angeles. The answer is much simpler than the NFL would lead you to believe.
Nowadays, these two franchises just don’t have many fans. Those who supported the Chargers in San Diego feel betrayed, and Rams fans in St. Louis share similar sentiments. Very few are willing to travel to catch their old hometown heroes, and football fans living in Los Angeles already have their favorite teams. (It’s safe to say that the Oakland Raiders are more beloved in L.A. than the new kids on the block.)
To put their respective situations into a single metaphor, it’s like these teams moved to a new school in a town foreign to them. They’re dazed, confused, and struggling to find anybody willing to lend them a helping hand. The Rams and Chargers are lost in a new world, and despite the NFL’s confidence that they’ll eventually find their footing, things aren’t looking too good right now.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.