It’s Friday night, and I’m being nearly smothered by lively folk adorned in any combination of black, silver, white and purple, shuffling their way into the MGM Grand Garden Arena to watch our beloved LA Kings play the New York Rangers. These are visiting Angelenos—my people.
I had to bail during my last Frozen Fury game to cover a show. But I’m not a typical LA sports fan—I’m not leaving early tonight, especially since I don’t get many chances to see my LA teams. I find my seat, acclimate to the chill and take in the buzz of the game—which the Kings are already winning. When I notice an MGM ad for a preseason Lakers game, I think: I’d love to see the Lakers (or anyone) at the Grand Garden (or anywhere). And then I think about the unique pro sports situation here, one riddled with conflicts and caveats, at least for this non-native.
I supported the Las Vegas 51s, but only when they were the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. In theory, I’d love to support a Vegas major pro league team, so I could have players to champion up close, and not from sports books and LA Times articles. But the emotional investment would be for naught as soon as the locals play the LA team, or threaten its playoff chances. There’s football, of course—I haven’t rooted for a team since the Rams were in Anaheim—but the NFL all but loathes Las Vegas, and pro football doesn’t interest me much, anyway. I didn’t go to a single Outlaws or Locomotives game, and you probably didn’t, either. I’m the only person I know who regularly attends Cashman Field’s MLB exhibition games, and I’m not a Cubs fan.
And there’s another rub. Beyond all the usual obstacles hindering local possession of a pro team, it’s possible all our established diversions and varied work schedules make regularly attending sports events an unnatural fit for our Las Vegas lifestyle. That’s not my particular problem—mine is one of allegiance. And it’s one I’d happily negotiate, so I might have the opportunity to feel the energy of live pro sports more frequently.