Sports

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Image courtesy of CBS Houston

Jordan Brenner

Community Editor

After the excitement of March Madness ends, many sports fans go through somewhat of a lull. These fans can’t follow the NBA closely (myself included) because of the inevitability of a Warriors vs. Cavs matchup in the finals. However, for many of the truly diehard fans of sport, the beginning of the lengthy baseball season is more than enough to bridge the gap to the beginning of football season in the fall.

The 2017 MLB season is setting up to be an extremely competitive one, one in which a whopping 15 teams have legitimate title hopes. Beyond the standings, there are a number of extremely talented young players who could emerge as superstars this year. So, here are the predictions of a truly diehard baseball and sports fan.

NL MVP Award: Bryce Harper

I apologize to those who know me as a zealot Nationals fan. I promise this will be the last Nationals prediction I make. After an extremely disappointing 2016 campaign, in which he slugged a disappointing 24 home runs, and only hit .243, Harper will be back with a vengeance. Harper had a monstrous spring and April, in which he seemed to be completely healthy, as opposed to last year. The right fielder will finish the year batting well above .300 with 40+ home runs.  

AL MVP Award: Carlos Correa

Houston, you have no problems at shortstop. The future will arrive in full force for the Astros in 2017. Carlos Correa, once a mega prospect, fielding comparisons to a young Alex Rodriguez, has turned in two very solid campaigns. This year, Correa will fully realize his potential, slugging 35+ home runs, and hovering a .300 average the entire year. Do not be fooled by his underwhelming start in April.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

I hate to not go out on a limb, but Kershaw is a once in a generation talent. He is clearly the most talented pitcher in baseball, and if healthy, he will easily bring home the 2017 Cy Young. His lack of innings due to a lengthy DL stint, was the only reason Kershaw did not bring home the hardware last season. Kershaw will turn in 200+ innings of sub 2.00 ERA baseball and win 20+ games.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale

There are numerous examples of ace pitchers changing uniforms in the offseason and not living up to the hype that surrounds them (David Price, Zack Greinke). Chris Sale will not be one of these pitchers. He will continue to meet, and surpass, Boston’s mile high expectations for him after his monstrous April. Sale is by far the most formidable left handed starter in the American league with his nasty Fastball/Slider combination. Sale will win 25 games for the Red Sox and sport a sub 3.00 ERA.

World Series: Cubs vs. Astros

The Astros, with Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa leading the way, will march into the postseason and World Series to ultimately lose in six games to the defending champions. Chicago’s lineup is arguably stronger this year with the addition of Kyle Schwarber. A bounce back year from Jason Heyward is more than enough to fill the hole that Dexter Fowler left when he departed for St. Louis. Their rotation is deep, and they plugged their final remaining hole in the offseason by trading for Wade Davis. The Cubs are simply stacked, and thus, they win their second championship in as many seasons.

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Michael Bolour
Staff Writer

Milken’s Boys Varsity Basketball team recently concluded what most believe to be the greatest sports season in our school’s history. Not only did the team win the Liberty League title, but most notably, the CIF division 4A championship as well. When the playoffs began, students, faculty and parents began to rally behind this group of talented players. Among these supporters was Tamir Saban, a former Milken varsity basketball team member. In 2015, Saban joined the Milken community and instantly became a fan favorite on the basketball team. Saban led the team in average points per game during the 2015-2016 season. With fellow sophomore teammates Amitai Afenjar ‘18 and Aaron Harouni ‘18 joining him on the varsity team, the future looked bright for Milken basketball. However, Tamir’s outstanding skills opened new opportunities for him to advance his high school basketball career.

The following year (2016-2017), Saban transferred to Crossroads School located in Santa Monica. This basketball season, Saban got the opportunity to play with the likes of junior Shareef O’neal, son of NBA legend Shaquille O’neal, as well as Arizona commit Ira Lee. The Roar sat down with Tamir to discuss the process of switching schools and how far he has gone since he first started at Milken back in late 2015.

 

How has the transferring process been to Crossroads?

“It’s been great. People here are really nice and welcoming. Of course at the start it wasn’t easy, like any new transition, but overall, it has been a great process. I’m glad to say that I have made great friends at both Milken and Crossroads so far.”

What is the biggest difference between your experience at Milken as a basketball player and your experience at Crossroads?

“The biggest difference was probably
the precision and speed of the game at Crossroads. During practice, everything must be precise. The level of performance is very important here, especially because there are many photographers who come to our practices and games, and they film every step we take. We also have a much bigger coaching staff who analyze every move we make to help us perform at a higher level. Even before the game, Coach brings us videos of our opponents so that when we come to the game, we know them and we are not surprised by anything.”

What do you miss most about Milken?

“I miss plenty of stuff from Milken: my friends, teachers and just the Jewish community and atmosphere of the school. I’m glad I got to experience going to school at Milken because I wouldn’t be the same person I am now without the time I spent there.”

How have you grown as a player from 10th to 11th grade?

“I feel that I have improved and grown in every aspect of my game. Shooting, passing, ball handling and most of all, my ability to see the floor better. It’s been a great process of improvement and learning, but I have plenty more work ahead of me.”

Have you heard about Milken’s recent success including a league championship and CIF playoff run? If so what is you reaction?

“Yeah, of course! I came and supported a few games this year too. The atmosphere was insane! The team really gave it their all! I am happy Milken won CIF and gave the school something to cheer about and have spirit for. I was definitely a fan just like every other student who attended the games, but I also feel a connection with everyone on the team and it made me so much more ecstatic and excited when they came out with the CIF championship.”

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Ben Chasen and Evan Satlin

Staff Writers

For many sports fans at Milken and around the world, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived: The NCAA’s March Madness Tournament which begins on Thursday, March 16. While many students and fans may just be starting to pay attention to the college basketball scene, it’s important for all fans to have a little bit of background information. For all those slightly less-educated March Madness maniacs at Milken, as well as diehard fans, here are a few teams to watch in this year’s tourney.

The Cinderella: #10 Wichita State Shockers

Okay, okay: we get it. It doesn’t seem as if Wichita State should even be considered a Cinderella any more. After all, they have had six-straight March Madness appearances, but we challenge anyone who wouldn’t call them an underdog to tell us what conference they play in… any luck?

The Shockers, who, for your information, hail from the Missouri Valley Conference, are poised to make another run in this year’s tournament. While they were widely considered underseeded as a 10 seed, we think they will have the composure and offensive poise to advance to the Sweet 16 after knocking out a respectable Dayton Flyers squad and the star-studded Kentucky Wildcats.

The Sleeper: #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

With huge names like Gonzaga and Arizona in the Western Region, it can seem very easy to overlook a talented Power Five Conference team like the Fighting Irish. But beware: not only are the Irish red hot after advancing to the ACC Championship Game and losing by a slim margin to Duke, but recently, March has been their month. Notre Dame has made the past two Elite Eights, and with the inconsistent West Virginia Mountaineers and potentially disappointing Gonzaga Bulldogs as their toughest competition on their way to the quarterfinals, we think they will make it three in a row.

The Disappointment: #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs

This year has stood out for Gonzaga, as they not only dominated the WCC yet again, but they also defeated tough non-conference opponents, including the Arizona Wildcats. However, we think the end is near for the Zags. They are slotted for a Second Round matchup with the Northwestern Wildcats, who have already made school history by making the tournament for the first time ever and are hungry to make more. If they happen to survive their matchup with the Wildcats, the Bulldogs will have to face either the always feisty WVU Mountaineers or Notre Dame, who, as we mentioned earlier, have recently seemed like a regular in the Elite Eight. Expect an exit from Gonzaga no later than the Sweet Sixteen.

The Champion: #1 Kansas Jayhawks

Every year it seems as if Kansas is a contender to win the national title and every year they come up short. This year, however, the Jayhawks have something they have not had in previous years: elite players that are both underclassmen and upperclassmen. Kansas is led by National Player of the Year and senior, point guard Frank Mason III, but their list of stellar players doesn’t end with Mason: add in future lottery-pick and freshman, shooting guard/small forward Josh Jackson, and streaky shooter, shooting guard Devonte Graham, and the Jayhawks have the best backcourt in the nation. Paired with the genius coaching of future Hall of Famer, Bill Self, the Jayhawks are in position to take the title home to Lawrence and raise a sixth National Championship banner in Allen Fieldhouse.

 

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Courtesy of Milken Photography

Danielle Lewis

Spotlight Editor

In honor of the end of the 2017 girls water polo season, The Roar sat down once again to hear about the countless horrors of water polo. This year, the team welcomed various new freshmen to the team. These rookies were especially shocked when exposed to the game’s aggressive nature. Although from afar the game may just seem like swimming and passing a ball, the underwater battles are what make the sport so intriguing. Here are just a few of the countless hostile water polo accounts as told by the Milken team:

Alex Bekhrad ‘17, one of the team’s captains, recalls being defended by an unreasonably aggressive and violent girl. After trying to fight back, the other team’s defender punched Bekhrad and said, “I dare you, touch me one more time. Do it and I will literally kill you.” At the end of water polo games, it is customary for all of the players to high five their opposing team. As Bekhrad lined up, ready to high five each player, her defender retracted her hand and greeted Bekhrad with a dirty look instead.

As a girl on offense swam towards Maya Robin ‘20, Robin prepared to defend her. However, to Robin’s shock, the girl looked her in the face and proceeded to poke Robin in the eye. Robin describes this act as “really rude” and remembers her eye tearing for a while afterwards.

Ayelet Goldman ‘17, another one of the team’s captains, very often ends up guarding the most aggressive of the other team. In a recent game, she faced a girl who constantly kicked off of her. At every turn of the ball, this girl kicked Goldman to get a head start towards the goal. As Goldman continued to defend, the girl resorted to scratching. By the end of the game, Goldman exited the pool with red scratches along her arms. Goldman remarks that “this kind of behavior is fairly normal in water polo, but some girls are worse than others.”

These stories are only just a few of the countless vigorous encounters during a season of water polo. Although often overlooked, they are what ultimately make the game the thrilling sport that it is.

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Jordan Brenner

Community Editor

According to a shocking report, Milken was given the CIF Division 4 Championship entirely out of pity. The report noted that throughout the year, referees’ calls were biased towards the Wildcats and that other teams were notified before the game to “go easy” on MIlken. This report, despite being shocking, explains a number of questionable calls during the final game against Shalhevet.

After much pushback from the Milken community, the President of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), released the following memo explaining their reasoning for granting the championship to Milken. President Amy McNamara explained, “From our perspective, it was just so hard to see a team try their best and perform at such a low level. We at CIF believe that hard work should not go unnoticed. There are not a lot of teams that can go such a long time without winning a championship. So, in the spirit of charitable giving, we have decided to let the boys on the Milken basketball team go home happy and fulfilled for the first time in their lives.”

Senior forward, Daniel Solomon, responded to the memo saying, “The boys were absolutely crushed by this news. However, deep down, I think they always knew this was too good to be true. At least we knew what it felt like to be champions for one week.”

The real CIF playoffs start next week, and well, Milken’s basketball team is nowhere near participating in them. However, the team does have one thing to be proud of. CIF has announced that the Milken Boys’ Basketball Team will be awarded the Sunshine Award; an award given to the team that tried their very hardest.

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Jordan Brenner

Community Editor

 

Fans from both Milken and Shalhevet showed up in droves to watch the CIF Division 4A championship game. The two teams represented the first ever CIF championship matchup between two Jewish schools. To highlight the unity between the two schools and the Jewish community in general, the entirety of the gym, including students, parents, alumni and friends from both teams, stood up and sang “Am Yisrael Chai.” This showing was in response to the recent rise in anti-Semitism and specifically, the Westboro Baptist Church protests at Shalhevet. The gesture, while nice, was short-lived.

In a passionate, close contested game that truly could have gone either way, the Wildcats ended up sneaking by the Shalhevet Firehawks 54-52 to secure their first Boys’ Basketball CIF championship.

The fans were a critical component of the win. The Milken student section, dressed all in black, stood the entire game, and shouted remarks at the referees and the other team. Starting center Brian Pearlman ‘17 attributes much of the team’s success to the fans’ energy. Pearlman notes, “Not to sound cliché, but we couldn’t have done it without the fans.”

The game, held at Crespi Carmelite High School, drew the attention of the Fire Department as a result of the gym being filled over its capacity. Because of this, an estimated 400 fans were turned away at the door, preventing them from viewing the historic contest. The Fire Marshal even threatened to shut down the game midway through the fourth quarter.

During the actual competition, Doron Matian ‘18 had by far his most productive game of the season, scoring 11 points off of the bench. But perhaps his greatest moment came when he electrified Milken fans with a half court buzzer beater, giving the WIldcats a three-point halftime lead. Matian’s shot was featured on the Channel 4 News, which he describes as, “something to remember for the rest of my life.” Matian continued, saying, “Making crucial plays in such a big game was the best feeling in the world.”

Milken’s dynamic duo, including Amitai Afenjar ‘18 and Aaron Horouni ‘18, scored 18 and 11 points respectively. Kian Zar ‘17 also had a big night, launching and draining multiple three-pointers throughout the game.

The team will now face West High School in the first round of the Division 4 State Playoffs on Wednesday evening in Torrance, CA. Bussing will be available to and from Milken for students attending the game for $5, and tickets to the game will also be $5. Tickets to the actual contest must be purchased at the door of West Torrance High School’s gymnasium.

 

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Josh Berenbaum

Sports Editor

Saturday marked a monumental day for not only the Milken Community but also the Jewish community of greater Los Angeles. The Wildcats upended the top seeded Notre Dame Riverside basketball team. The victory sets up a matchup with Shalhevet, a Modern-Orthodox School in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles. When the two teams clash tonight for the CIF Southern Section Division 4A title, they will be participating in the first championship game between Jewish schools in CIF history. The winner of the contest will also be the first Jewish CIF Basketball Champion since Valley Torah won in 2011.

Notre Dame entered Saturday’s game on a 14-game winning streak and had only lost two games all season, but Milken entered the game “ready for battle” according to Kian Zar ‘17. “We knew they were the number one seed and that they were going to be tough,” Zar explained. With battle in mind, the Wildcats came out firing, opening a four-point lead early.  But, Notre Dame battled back, tying the score at 12 at the end of the first quarter. The game continued back and forth throughout the second quarter, with the Wildcats trailing by three at the half.

The Wildcats rallied for a strong third quarter, making five three-pointers, including three by Aaron Harouni ‘18. The shooting barrage opened an 8-point lead for the Wildcats by the end of the third, but Notre Dame quickly erased the deficit in the fourth, leading 46-43 with under four minutes left. The team was able to regain the lead with a Harouni layup and a few free throws. Notre Dame sophomore Anthony Holland had a shot to tie the game, but his three-pointer missed long and the Wildcats emerged victorious 50-47. When Coach Michael Whiting described the game, he said he was proud that “the boys found a way to pull it out.” Whiting said “the team really played extremely well.”

Tonight, Whiting’s team will once again return to a packed Crespi gymnasium to square off against Shalhevet. Entering the game at 26-7, Shalhevet’s toughest playoff matchup came in the first round when Lancaster High School sent the game to overtime, though Lancaster eventually lost by 5 points. The other Shalhevet victory margins have been 23 in the quarterfinals and 15 Thursday against Mary Star of the Sea.

Milken and Shalhevet did not play each other this year, but have many opponents in common because both teams played the Milken Classic in November. Shalhevet won the tournament while Milken finished fourth. The last time the two schools faced off was in December 2015, also in the Milken Classic. Shalhevet won that game 59-50.

Players to watch in tonight’s game are Shalhevet guard Eitan Halpert ‘17 who scored 39 points in the Lancaster game, and forward Edan Sokol ‘17 who is the team’s second leading scorer. For Milken, the play of Brian Pearlman ‘17 and Amitai Afenjar ‘18 will be crucial as the frontcourt tandem will be the tallest players on the court.

To celebrate the achievements of Milken’s basketball team, Student Government President Justin Leff ‘17 announced a pep rally today at lunch to celebrate “what [the basketball team] has already accomplished” and to encourage the student body to continue the “incredible support for the team. We want to get momentum for the game going during the school day.”

For both Milken and Shalhevet, victory tonight would be a first in their school’s history. But either way, a Jewish day school will win a basketball championship in Encino tonight.

 

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Josh Berenbaum
Sports Editor

Milken’s Varsity Basketball team claimed the Liberty League Championship on Thursday, defeating The Buckley School, 60-32. Buckley had won six straight Liberty League Championships, but had a down year and went 0-8 in the league this year. For the Wildcats, it is the team’s first league title since 2013, when they were members of the Delphic League (the league Milken used to compete in).
For Senior Brian Pearlman ‘17, a four-year varsity player, the victory at Buckley was “really, really sweet” for Coach Michael Whiting and his current crop of players. They finished 7-1 in league, with the loss coming to Holy Martyrs who finished one game behind them at 6-2.
Milken’s reward for their triumph was a first round bye in CIF Southern Section Playoffs, and the Wildcats will face Salesian High School, located in Boyle Heights, for a spot in the quarterfinals. Seeded 5th in Division 4A, the Wildcats will host the game in Hollander Gymnasium Saturday night, one day after the rest of the division plays because of conflicts with Shabbat.
Milken will enter the game against Salesian as favorites, but the Mustangs have beaten Mary Star of the Sea, a team Milken lost to in the Milken Classic Tournament. Alternatively, Salesian finished the season with a 13-14 record and is seeded 12th in the tournament. While the focus is on winning the first game of the playoffs, the Wildcats have higher aspirations, hoping to advance as far as the finals. No Milken team has ever won a CIF Southern Section Title, but three teams, girls soccer in 2003, boys baseball in 2010 and boys tennis in 2011, have played for the championship.

Kian Zar ‘17, another four-year varsity player, hopes that the “hard work we’ve put in over the last four years pays off. We are the first Milken team to have a bye and we feel like the championship isn’t just a dream this year.”

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Ben Chasen
Staff Writer

The biggest sporting event in America is quickly approaching: Super Bowl LI kicks off on Sunday with a 3:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time) kickoff. Many Milken students, both avid football fans or not, will gather around TVs to watch the extravaganza, which will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. This year’s event will have all the regular components of a usual Super Bowl: 100+ million viewers, a flashy halftime show by Lady Gaga, a handful of hilarious commercials, and of course, the most anticipated football game of the year. But with the explosive offenses of this year’s competing teams (the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots), this year’s contest is poised to be a little different. Here’s a preview of what is bound to be a Super Bowl to remember:

The Patriots casually march into Houston with a sense of normalcy. After all, this is a team that has been in seven of the last 17 Super Bowls, dating back to 2001, when young star, Tom Brady, and recently-hired head coach, Bill Belichick, won New England their first Super Bowl. Sixteen years later, Brady and Belichick both have four Super Bowl rings and are still the star and coach of the Patriots. After serving a four-game suspension earlier in the season for the infamous “Deflategate” scandal, Brady has had a stellar season, ranking second in the league with a Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) of 83.

Of course, on the other end of the field is the only quarterback who has statistically outplayed Brady: the Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan, leads the league with a QBR of 83.3. Joining forces with Ryan to form a juggernaut of an offense are wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman. Jones, who has the second-most receiving yards in the league this year, is a must-watch target who is a threat to score every time he catches a pass. Freeman, who scored 11 rushing touchdowns while only fumbling once, has made the Falcons a multi-dimensional team offensively, leading them to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1998.

With two threatening offenses, this game will come down to which team can play better defense. While the Patriots had much more success on defense in the regular season, allowing 5223 total yards to opposing offenses (as opposed to the Falcons, who allowed 5939 total yards), the Falcons have shown a much stronger defensive presence in the playoffs.

This game will likely depend on the Falcons’ ability to contain Brady, similar to how they contained Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, in the NFC Championship Game. If the Falcons can find a way to stop Brady late in the game, the Lombardi Trophy could be headed to Atlanta.

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Image via Matt Sebek on Twitter

 

Ben Chasen

Staff Writer

Just a few months ago, excitement filled the air in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The entry gates were packed. Chants of “Whose house? Rams’ House!” echoed through the concourse. Fans nearly filled the stadium. And this was only the second game of the preseason; a game without any real relevance, mainly played by backups. But Rams fans didn’t care. They had Rams football in Los Angeles for the first time in 36 years. I was rooting for the opposing team, my Kansas City Chiefs, and despite the preseason status of the game, I faced some aggression from a few potentially drunken Rams fans. I didn’t care. If anything, I was happy. “Good for them”, I thought. “They finally have a team to root for.”

Flash forward to mid-December. The Rams are facing off in a late season battle with the playoff-bound Atlanta Falcons. But there are some key differences from the preseason game. The excitement in the air is gone. The enthusiastic cheers are gone. The stands are sparsely filled. And this game actually counts for something. But to many Rams fans, it isn’t anything worth showing up for. Their team is 4-8, making them virtually eliminated from playoff contention. Instead of trying to prove their loyalty even during the team’s struggles, the fans didn’t show up. The home-field advantage cherished by other NFL squads was non-existent. Several playoff teams, including the Seahawks, Patriots, Falcons and Chiefs, rely on their fans to make their stadiums a loud place to play for opposing teams. This makes it harder for opposing players to communicate on offense, and it can make a significant difference in the game. But at this Rams game, the meek attendance did nothing to make the Coliseum an intimidating atmosphere for the visiting Falcons. The Rams were obliterated, 42-14.

Flash forward once more. It’s New Year’s Day in sunny San Diego. The San Diego Chargers are playing what is expected to be their last game before moving North to Los Angeles and joining the Rams to play in the Coliseum. The stadium isn’t nearly full. Half the fans that are actually in attendance, myself included, are rooting for the opposing Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers fans in attendance look hopeless. They know that this is their last time seeing their San Diego Chargers. Many of them are taking pictures or going through rituals for one last time. The San Diego Union-Tribune published a compilation of emails addressed to Chargers owner, Dean Spanos, begging him to keep the team in San Diego. In one of the emails, Michael Meza, a die-hard Chargers fans said, “The Chargers have provided me and my family with amazing memories that will last us a lifetime. The Chargers are a huge part of this city, and if they leave, it would destroy this city.”

The Chargers will be moving to Los Angeles in search of a bigger market, a new stadium, and, most importantly, more money. For years, their fans would pack the stands to see the team play. After all, from the mid-2000s until 2013, they were one of the best teams in the NFL and consistently won their division, the AFC West. But when the team lost a few key players and needed to rebuild, the fans stopped showing up. The seats were often empty or filled by visiting fans of opposing teams (like me). When ballot measures were proposed to provide city funding to replace the Chargers’ outdated home, Qualcomm Stadium, with a new, world-class facility, San Diego residents voted strongly against them. The Chargers’ fanbase was terminally fair-weathered, and it cost them their football team.

Now many Rams fans — including several Milken students — are treading the same line that Chargers fans had been for the past few years. The Rams had a very disappointing first year in Los Angeles, and it’s tempting for Rams fans to stop paying attention and supporting their team until they improve significantly. As a football fan, I understand it. The Chiefs have been awful for most of my life. But I (and the majority of the Chiefs fanbase) never allowed myself to lose loyalty, and now my patience has paid off: the Chiefs hosted a Divisional Round game for the first time since 2003. Meanwhile, Chargers fans in San Diego abandoned their team when they failed, and now they are losing the franchise altogether.

I am not attempting to suggest that the Rams and Chargers are going anywhere. Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building a brand new, $2.6 billion stadium, and has already invested so much in the move to Los Angeles that it would make no sense to move the Rams away anytime soon. The same goes for Chargers owner, Dean Spanos, who agreed to a lease deal with the Rams to play at their new stadium once it is built. But if fans don’t give Kroenke and Spanos reason to believe that they can make above the league average in profits, the owners will be less inclined to spend the maximum amount allowed by the NFL to build a strong roster. Many of the NFL’s best teams, such as the Chiefs,  Raiders and Seahawks, have had awful stretches in the recent past, but have had fanbases that were loyal and gave the owners reason to make the maximum investment in the success of the teams. With the Rams and Chargers, fans will have to be patient and allow the teams a few years to grow and improve. If fans keep supporting the teams by buying tickets and merchandise like they did amidst the early-season hype, the owners will take notice and invest in the quality of the team. If not, they may always be disappointed with the product on the field.