A Eulogy for the Los Angeles Avengers and Riptide

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IApril 22, 2009

1 May 2000:  A shot of a football on the tee during the Arena Football game between the Oklahoma Wranglers and the Los Angeles Avengers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Wranglers defeated the Avengers 59-33.Mandatory Credit: Kellie Landis  /Allsport

I follow many teams in this area. Any time you have a team that represents a town that demands results, you get behind it all the way to the end.

Today, I am here to provide a eulogy on two teams that I followed: the Los Angeles Avengers and the Los Angeles Riptide.

I first want to say a few words about the Riptide. They were a team that caused opponents trouble in Major League Lacrosse. For two seasons, the Riptide entertained fans with their style of play: fast paced, with fluid passing and sharp, talented players at each position.

For me, the Riptide were the darlings of Major League Lacrosse. I was never able to witness their games live at the Home Depot Center's Track and Field complex. Not even once.

But I watched one of their matches, and I remember the 2007 season, where they lost a heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Barrage, 16-13.

No one ever thought that their 13-12 semifinal defeat to the Denver Outlaws in 2008 would be the last game the Riptide would ever play. I just found out on the site that they had folded.

It devastated me because they showed that the West Coast can play lacrosse. Even more ironic, is that the Outlaws survive to play another season in the MLL.

The Riptide are consigned to the history books.

While I was at the Home Depot Center writing my story on the Sol's success in the WPS, I found out that the Avengers had folded.

I could not believe that my good day had been severely marred by this news. I was shocked and appaled that it had to come to this.

I've always liked watching Arena Football. The first-ever team I seriously followed were the Arizona Rattlers during their last ArenaBowl win. I owe the Rattlers my gratitude for helping me take this unique game seriously.

A high-scoring affair, unique nets and offensive shootouts are the norm in the Arena Football League, as well as its subsidiary, arenafootball2.

I remembered when I watched what would be the only time I ever saw a match. I was in high school, and I got free tickets to watch the Avengers take on this team called the Florida Bobcats.

The Avengers won that game, but my voice was spent. It was a fun game to watch.

It was a great game to watch.

I still have a few photos of watching a touchdown pass, and the celebrations that followed, in the large photo archives of my older sister's study.

And I didn't know it then, but that would be the only time I would be able to watch arena football live inside an actual arena.

Years passed. Seasons passed. 

We mourned the death of Al Lucas and lamented the mediocrity of the sad story that was Todd Marinovich.

We cheered the successes of the Avengers making the playoffs for five of those nine magical seasons.

We internalized that the mediocrity under then-head coach Ed Hodgkiss would see him fired, with Pat O'Hara taking his place.

There is a local shopping mall in nearby Lakewood, the Lakewood Center Mall. Every now and then, there would be kiosks selling Avengers season tickets. I couldn't afford watching one game, let alone a season, so all I could do was ignore them.

It wasn't out of spite for our lack of firepowerI just didn't have the means to watch the action again.

In January, I found out that the Arena Football League would terminate operations for one year. And I waited, in the hopes that the Avengers would be back in 2010, ready to entertain those in the City of Angels who follow the AFL.

It was never realized.

O'Hara's dream of coaching in the AFL in his hometown was cruelly taken away. And my hopes of seeing what still would have been the only professional American football team (arena football is a variety of it) was taken away as well.

With the economic crisis still not resolved, I can only wonder how many more teams in Los Angeles will be folding.

I do not want teams like the Galaxy, or Chivas USA, or the Sol, to fold because of this.

These two clubs fought bravely, but were stopped by that cancer that is the recession.

It metastasized into something unmanageable.

With the only professional football teams in Los Angeles playing different codes (association and rugby [if you count Belmont Shore RFC]), as a local sports fan writing on b/r, I carry on.

But I will never forget the memories and successes both the Los Angeles Avengers and Los Angeles Riptide had.

They made my city proud, and they made me proud. If I had the power to have it all happen again, there would be no point in doing so.

Their legacy was forged by the games they placed, and the memories they shared with the fans, and all of Los Angeles.

Farewell, my dear sweet Avengers and Riptide. I salute you.