Every September, I’m an Arizona Cardinals fan until their humiliating losses become unbearable and I start waking up on Sundays filled with shame and sinking beer after sad beer vowing never to watch the stupid game ever, ever again.
My shame is Nevada’s fault.
I adopted the Cards as my team because I once lived in Arizona, and I like the regional affiliation. But I’m not an Arizonan. I’m a Nevadan, a Las Vegan and a super-frustrated football fan—not only because my team consistently sucks (minus the 2008 Super Bowl season; we miss you, Kurt Warner), but because we don’t have an NFL team in Las Vegas.
I find being a Cardinals fan almost as excruciating as waiting for Las Vegas to get a single fricking stadium in place and woo a pro football franchise and rise to its appropriate level of sports fandom. But the sad truth is that we don’t have a team, we don’t have a stadium and we don’t have as much civic pride as plenty of cities this size.
So in September, when the Cards have yet to blow an easy-schmeezy NFC West title, I dress in red and white and trek five hours to Phoenix to cheer them on in their spaceship-cool stadium that they somehow built without epic bickering and an infinite array of empty promises.
And then, in October, totally screwed over by the Cards’ passing game and untethered to my real city, Vegas, I go to Denver. I become a Denver Broncos fan. Again, it’s by virtue of proximity and regional affection. I like to attend games, not just watch them on TV. And even when Denver has a sucky season—and they’ve had a few recently—they at least have a legacy of good football. So it’s never prohibitively humiliating to don orange and blue and fly to Colorado for some quality tailgating and fandom.
By November, when Denver blows it and I am a fair-weather fan/ship lost at sea, I end up in San Diego. Thanks to Norv Turner, this is sometimes as agonizing as being a Cards fan, but I like the Chargers’ blue and yellow and lightning bolts and this little Mexican restaurant in Old Town. So. Go Chargers.
The point, finally, is that I want to be an NFL fan. I want to wear my team’s colors and tailgate and sit in the stands every home game. I love football. A team provides a point of civic pride and unity, even if it sucks—think about the White Sox and the Cubs (sorry, Chicago). For years there’s been bitching about Las Vegans not loving their city enough, not acknowledging that they are Las Vegans instead of long-term visitors, and an NFL team would be a fine part of the antidote. And it does need to be the NFL, not the UFL or CFL or XFL (all of which are more humiliating than being an Arizona Cardinals fan) or some other insult to the city’s national status.
Until then, fall is my time to crash the games in other cities. Go Card-Bronc-Chargers.