Winning is supposed to be second nature in Los Angeles. When coaches and managers are hired in L.A., it is the expectation of every professional franchise in the county that they win a crown of some type. It's nearly impossible to find a team in Los Angeles without a championship pedigree. If you count Orange County teams -- which sports media just lumps in with Los Angeles -- there is literally only one team without a title in L.A. -- the Clippers. Every other franchise has a title: the Dodgers; the Angels, the Galaxy, the Lakers, the Rams, the Kings, the Ducks, and the Sparks (yes, they count).
It's not just that they will be expected to win A title as a manager, they will be expected to win multiple crowns. The Rams, Ducks, and Angels are the only teams with a single title. Every other L.A. franchise has multiple crowns, three teams -- Dodgers, Lakers, and Galaxy -- have five or more championships. There are total of 28 crowns in Los Angeles, and that doesn't count the winning done by USC and UCLA, which are professional teams to the residents of the area.
Enter the Los Angeles Rams, a franchise that hasn't had a winning season in nearly a decade and whose coach hasn't put a winner on the field in this decade. A city that wanted the Chargers or the Raiders instead ended up with the Rams. But hey, at least the NFL is back in Los Angeles and that's truly what matters most to many people. This is not sarcasm, the fact that the NFL is back really is a huge deal for a good number of people.
Not a lot is going according to plan right now. These are tense times. It doesn't matter which side of the political spectrum you inhabit, there is undoubtedly a belief that society is reaching a critical mass. Everywhere you look, you will find death, misery, tragedy, and the inexplicably sad. Even the celebrity deaths of 2016 have shaken some of us to our very core -- Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, and Alan Rickman just to name a few.
In the larger scheme of things, we could all use a bit more peace, but sports often offer us a temporary respite from the larger goings-on in society. They serve as an escape and can often have such a profound impact on the larger society that they are often memorialized and etched in history forever. A prime example of this can be found from today's induction of Mike Piazza into the MLB Hall of Fame.
A legend in Los Angeles, Piazza cemented his legacy when he moved to New York and became part of the fabric of the Mets organization. It was Piazza's home run after the World Trade Center attacks that helped bring New York a sense of normality, and is often cited as a moment when the healing began. Piazza did little more than hit a piece of rawhide with a wooden bat, but the significance of what it meant could be felt in the reverberations of the stadium unable to contain the enormous roar that shot up because it meant so much more than one run. It meant much more than a win. This was life.
Los Angeles is a melting pot of cultures, political ideas, religions, ethnicities, etc... Los Angeles has always been at the forefront of social movements. It's unsurprising that many of the issues facing our society today can be found deeply entrenched in sports, and it's likely to become even more so with athletes across all sports taking a stand. Clippers' star Chris Paul was one of several key NBA athletes to approach ESPN about using the ESPY's as a platform to raise awareness for social issues. In the recent days, we've Washington Mystic players and their ownership group take a stand for Black Lives Matter. Fans may think athletes should "stick to sports," but more actions like these are coming and you can expect key athletic figures to be at the center of them.
This is where Los Angeles needs the Rams to be winner. Not on the football field, though that would be huge for the fans, as well. No, the Rams are needed to be winners in the arena of life, community development, and social awareness. The Rams are already one of the better organizations in the NFL when it comes to community service and more of this will be needed in the coming weeks, months, and years. Things are likely going to get rougher before they get better and NFL athletes should not discount the voice they have and its ability to impact others. Whether by word or by deed, Los Angeles needs the Rams to be a winner in these areas more than anything that happens on the field.
Organizing community relief effort, rebuilding of worn down public play areas, meeting with local and state law enforcement officials, and working with politicians in the area to combat the rising levels of tension are all things that can and should happen as the Rams settle back into the area. No organization in Los Angeles, save perhaps the Lakers, is better positioned to do more good and reach more people than the Los Angeles Rams. Such is the global power of football. That doesn't even count the fact that the Rams will be a foreign representative when the team heads to London later in the year. It all adds up. Every off the field incident, good or bad, it all adds up and people do keep a running tab.
Now more than ever, Los Angeles needs something that can bring the city together. What makes the Rams so special is their heart for the community and that is why they are in a unique position to have a louder voice than other organizations. This is already a franchise that loves to make a difference, and now they have a chance to make a difference in one of the biggest political and social hotbeds in America. As we've seen with Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, and several others, the power of an NFL athlete's actions have yet to define their upper limits.
Perhaps the Rams can test those upper limits in the most positive ways possible. Then we all win.