Two Cities, Two Sports, But Just One Story
One of the more interesting facets of human beings is what we choose to invest our emotions in. For a large percentage of people around the globe one of those things is sports. Whether it is soccer riots in Europe, hockey fights in Canada or sumo wrestling in Japan, sports and all the emotions accompanied with them, are imbedded as part of the world’s collective soul.
Usually, it’s the extreme emotions that writers, like me, wind up discussing such as how a few Seahawks supporters threw debris at an injured player or how millions took to the streets to celebrate with the Seahawks when they won their first ever Super Bowl.
While both the positive and the negative emotions resonate through the sports world when they occur, I find that we, as humans, are sometimes easily reminded of the negative ones we have experienced when something similar occurs. We are then left to relive that tragedy in our hearts, all over again.
Today, I find myself lost in the days where the Seattle Supersonics were also a part of the rich sports culture the Emerald City once enjoyed. The reminder of the Sonics’ torturous departure was brought back to me this week when I heard that the St. Louis Rams were headed back to Los Angeles.
When word broke that the Rams were moving back to LA, it’s like all those Sonics emotions rose back to the surface again when I started reading letters and remarks from a remarkably loyal NFL supporters in St. Louis. The parallels in the circumstances of these two teams’ moves is remarkable.
The Sonics, er excuse me, the Thunder’s current owner, Clay Bennett, is a liar. Bennett’s dishonesty has been demonstrated well beyond a reasonable doubt when Aubrey McClendon, a minor partner of Bennett’s ownership group, said in an interview that the team was not purchased to keep it in Seattle, but to relocate it to Oklahoma City.
It was further proved that Bennett was not being truthful when Seattle publicly released email conversations that took place within Bennett’s ownership group and alleged that they indicated at least some members of the group had a desire to move the team to Oklahoma City prior to the purchase in 2006. The emails were the basis of Seattle’s unsuccessful lawsuit against Bennett that failed to keep the Sonics in Seattle.
Bennett later denied such intentions, sort of, by saying McClendon “was not speaking on behalf of the ownership group”. Due to his comments, McClendon was fined $250,000 by the NBA.
Dry that Clay Bennett statement out and you can fertilize the lawn with it as far as I am concerned. There’s no way any owner, minority or otherwise, just makes that statement up. You certainly don’t make it up in emails either. Bennett knew his intentions were to move to Oklahoma all along.
I see similarities to the Sonics’ story, all over the place, when I examine the Rams pending departure from St. Louis. The NFL’s own ownership relocation committee did not even recommend the move we are now seeing approved from the NFL owners. You also have an owner, leading an entire city on for years, when he knows full well that the decision to move has already been made.
The NFL, doing its best to make the decision to move the Rams to LA look like a pending decision, held town hall meetings in St. Louis. “We want to hear from you, the loyal NFL supporter, who we care more about than anything.” they cried. “Tell us why we should stay or go”.
I submit to you that this process is nothing more than theatre, no different than the fiction created by countless Hollywood studios that you can pay $12 to see in any one of thousands of theatres across the country. The decision to leave St. Louis was made a long time ago by owner Stan Kroenke.
To make matters worse, Kroenke, who hasn’t talked to anyone in the media for years and after the Rams’ move to LA was announced, goes on TV and claims that he loves St. Louis and Missouri. He has an awfully funny way of showing it, a characteristic, like dishonesty, that Mr. Kroenke shares with Mr. Bennett.
In light of all the evidence, only a fool would tell you now that the Rams or the Sonics moving had anything to do with loyalty. It had to do with one thing, and one thing only.
Follow the money and you’ll always find the real answer to just about anything you encounter in life. I say that not as a proponent of embracing that philosophy, but simply as one who is keenly aware of it.
The Rams and Kroenke are going to LA for the money. There’s more money in Kroenke’s pocket with the Rams in LA than there is if they are in St. Louis. This is true no matter how many jerseys people buy in St. Louis, or how nice the stadium is, or is not.
The Rams fate in LA is all but sealed. Sure, there could be lawsuits, just like the ones that Seattle tried to save the Sonics. In the end, it won’t matter. The decision to put the wheels of relocation in motion were made long ago.
I feel for the remaining Rams supporters in St. Louis. I can honestly say I know exactly how you feel. And it makes me now wonder why we, as humans, chose to invest our emotions so deeply into our sports teams?
We should know full well that owners of sports franchises are interested in making the most money possible. Heck, even in Seattle every single major sports franchise has attempted, or at least threatened, to relocate at one time or another simply because they wanted to make more money.
They aren’t interested in embracing our loyalty, our pride, our emotions or anything else like that. They just use those thing because they want our wallets, nothing more and nothing less. Sports team owners have become experts at manipulating and tugging at the emotions of a team’s supporters yet we keep the money flowing their way regardless.
Should we accept that fact? Should we denounce it and fight back? Should we just keep buying tickets and jerseys no matter what?
That’s a decision I’ll leave to each of you to make on your own, but I suspect that most will continue to support their current team or maybe even a new one.
I guess that’s why they call us fans. Only a fanatic would voluntarily continue to pay money to submit themselves to more of this type of treatment.