Why I Became a Fan Of The San Diego Chargers

Ryan BalkeContributor IMay 29, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:   Runningback LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers prepares to enter the game  against the Indianapolis Colts during their NFL Game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 23, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

We've heard the expression "There's no place like home." For me, there's no sports teams like the home team. Having lived in San Diego for my entire life, I've been a fan of both the Chargers and Padres for as long as I can remember. And now that I'm an alumni of San Diego State University, I can proudly add the Aztecs to the list of teams that I'll love until the day I die.

Not that my allegiances are confined to the 619 Area Code. Without a professional basketball team to support, I've had to venture up Interstate 5 to find an NBA team, the Lakers. But even during the Shaq and Kobe 3-peat, I never got the same joy I've gotten when teams from my city have found success.

So I guess the easiest answer to the question, "Why did you become a Chargers fan?" is because supporting San Diego teams is really all I've known. I remember being 7-years-old and watching Pete Stoyanovich's shank in 1994 at my parents' house.

The next week, I remember jumping around my aunt's house when Dennis Gibson knocked down the pass to send us to Super Bowl XXIX.

It seems obvious to say, but that season got me hooked on being a football fan. That Chargers team was far from the most talented in the league. Hell, they'd probably lose to the current Chargers by a couple touchdowns. But they were scrappy, they persevered and they left it all on the field.

It was easy to fall in love with that team.

Being fans of the team in your town make the good moments better. As a student at San Diego State, I stormed the court at COX Arena to celebrate Mountain West Conference championships and trips to the Final Four of the NIT.

For any student at that game, it was a great night. But seeing what the program was like before their current success made it even sweeter. Same exact thing with the Chargers.

The Chargers will always be synonymous with the name "Ryan Leaf," arguably the biggest bust in the history of the NFL. But Leaf's failures allowed us to nab a guy by the name of LaDainian Tomlinson. Suddenly, it doesn't seem like that bad of a tradeoff. The dark days of Gilbride, Leaf and June Jones make the team's current success even sweeter

Civic pride goes a long way with my fandom. Driving past Qualcomm Stadium in the offseason reminds me of the madhouse that place will become in a few short months. I wouldn't have that build-up of excitement if I followed a team 1,500 miles away.

It's a lot of fun to drive around and see Charger stickers on people's cars, a hell of a lot more fun than it'd be repping the jersey of a team that plays in a different timezone.