“I think that it’s a very unfortunate poncho that he’s wearing there,” says ERHS senior Keely Miyamoto of English teacher Mr. Alvarez’s Los Angeles Chargers attire. Keely, a Las Vegas Raiders fan, was disheartened by the team’s 14-28 loss to the Chargers during their Monday Night Football matchup on October 4. “I’m excited, I’m pumped,” responds Mr. Alvarez. “Chargers, finally, we win. We’re trying to earn respect. Everybody hates us, I get bullied all the time. Even in L.A.”
The Chargers, formerly based in San Diego, and the Raiders, previously of Oakland, once represented the heated rivalry between Southern and Northern California; now, the teams’ battle is emblematic of the near-homicidal dispute between Los Angeles’s West Side and the state of Nevada.
At halftime, the Chargers led 21-0, but Raiders fans had hope that their team could pull it off. “It was a tough night,” says Keely. “It was gonna be the best comeback ever.” Mr. Alvarez notes “three touchdowns in the first half” as a high point of the game. “That was awesome.” He continues, “Everyone calls my team ‘the Chokers,’ because...we find weird, interesting ways to lose games that we should win. I, like, needed a paper bag to breathe into, but luckily the defense stepped up, they stopped them, and won the game.”
“I don’t think that [the Raiders] got a single first down in the first quarter,” Keely says. “They were at negative yards for a while because of penalties. In the third quarter, it seemed like it was gonna be, you know, the greatest comeback since 1988. There was, like, a 21-point deficit, they came back 14, and our hope disintegrated a little bit. It was like a little hope blossomed, then it wilted and receded back.” However, “there’s always hope,” Keely says. “Win, lose or tie, I'm a Raider ‘till I die.”
Before taking the photo that accompanies this article, Keely and Mr. Alvarez had never met. Now, when passing each other in the second floor Liberal Arts building hallway, tensions rise. “In their face!” says Mr. Alvarez. “Oh, it’s only started. I did not know that they’re a Raiders fan. So now I’ll give them dirty looks every time I see them.” Indeed, moments after the photo was captured, Keely charged at Mr. Alvarez with their LAUSD-issued Chromebook, who fended off the blow with a nearby desk chair. Mr. Hicks then interceded by taking two David Bowie albums off his classroom wall (“Station to Station” and “Low”), and hurled them at the two rabid fans like boomerangs. After returning the battered Chromebook to their backpack, Keely seemed unruffled by the conflict. “[He’s wearing] a pretty sucky poncho,” Keely said of Mr. Alvarez. “Other than that, seems like a great guy.”