Before I moved to LA my friend John told me that I should be a Clippers fan and outlined several reasons why I should like the Clippers over the Lakers. My response to him was “The Clippers are an NBA team?” Clearly I don't watch that many NBA games but I guess I just assumed everyone in LA was a Lakers fan. Everyone isn't...and its not only because Lamar Odom is gone.
Much like DC, LA is a city full of transplants who came to pursue their dreams, bringing with them identities of from their home to add to the larger identity of the city. However, the size of LA lends to what seems like a series of suburbs and sub-identities as opposed to a collective identity. This came across most clearly to me through discovering people's sports loyalties. There are a number of franchises which are trying to capitalize on the huge potential market of LA and its surroundings. These competing franchises (Lakers/Clippers, Dodgers/Angels) and the void left by no current NFL team, seem to magnify a lack of collective sports culture for LA and ultimately a lack of city wide identity. I'm not saying LA doesn't have an identity, quite the opposite, but “Los Angeles” seems to just be an umbrella term for a wide range of smaller sub-identities.
In DC, Maryland and Virginia (aside from the transplants—and there are a lot of them with quite strong sports loyalties) most everyone is a Capitals fan, most everyone is a Redskins fan (except for that one random Cowboys fan everyone knows), most everyone is a Nationals fan (except for the old school Orioles fans), and everyone just wishes the Washington Wizards would just go back to being the Washington Bullets. There's a collective sense of identity, from the Virginia and Maryland suburbs to the inner city, which really seems to bring the area together. Or more accurately gives reason for people to mourn together after losses...
But, when the Redskins win, people in DC are immediately happier, customer service is better, people tend to smile more, spirits are lifted! I don't feel like there is a city-wide equivalent here but there are pockets of it. That isn't a bad thing, its just different.
On a personal level, the Washington Capitals 2011/2012 season ended last night so I now have to turn my attention to my adopted LA team. The LA Kings have made advancing in the playoffs look easy, only losing one game in the first two rounds of playoffs. (I happened to be at the one game they lost to the Canucks—I take this as a sign that I am bad luck.) I never thought of LA as a hockey city but I have met some enthusiastic and loyal fans which I think is an example of these pocketed identities. So I'm jumping on the bandwagon and I'm happy to take on a new identity as a Kings fan. Second only to the Capitals of course.