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MAY 25, 2016

The Chargers have a favor to ask.

This coming election cycle, the team plans to propose a bill that will raise taxes in San Diego. It will likely be a 4 percent increase in hotel taxes and will require two-thirds of San Diegans to approve it to be passed. The bill would springboard San Diego into the nation’s top 20 for a city tax rate. And on top of it, the city may also lose Comic-Con, one of its biggest tourist events each year.

Let me get this straight. This Chargers team, the one that’s asking for that hike, is the same team that embarrassed itself, going 4-12 last year — including 0-6 in the division? Now sure, you’re playing Peyton Manning twice a year, but you can’t eek out a win against Alex “No. 1 overall Pick” Smith or David Carr’s little brother?

It’s the same Chargers team that’s owned by Dean Spanos — the billionaire smooth talker who went from fighting to uproot the Chargers and haul them to Los Angeles one day to screaming how badly he wanted to stay in San Diego the next?

The same Chargers team that‘s never won a Super Bowl, and in the grand scheme of football things, can’t truly look in the mirror and tell itself that it’s one of the league’s premier — nay, even semi-important — franchises?

Those guys?

Now, I speak with somewhat limited experience: I’ve only lived the disappointment for 19 years. There are some, much older than I, that have braved the storm for decades. While I watched Ladainian Tomlinson ascend to greatness without ever earning any jewelry to show for it, others watched Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow and hell, even Lance Alworth, do the same. The Chargers are a generational wave of shortcoming, and in less than a year, they could be gone.

And we need to decide if that’s OK.

I mean, it sure would be easier to get to the beach on an 83 degree day in November if Chargers fans (and many, many visiting fans) weren’t driving to Qualcomm Stadium and saturating every freeway in the county.

No, I need to stop. I’m talking crazy. The Chargers are San Diego! They’re the heart and soul of America’s Finest City — without them there would be no us, and vice versa.

Well, maybe not.

Spanos doesn’t seem to think so, and city Mayor Kevin Faulconer understandably hasn’t been overly willing to bend to the demands of a big-talking president of a perpetually mediocre franchise.

I would vote for a new hotel tax and stadium, certainly sacrificing some of my SoCal-famed hospitality, if the Chargers were any good. You think I’d let a team like 2006 ever leave San Diego? A squad that went 14-2 and broke offensive rushing touchdown records? No way.

But the problem is, they haven’t been very good at all. They’ve been so bad for years now, that even a run of minor successes they enjoyed from 2004 to 2014 seems more like an anomaly than proven prosperity.

All hope, however, isn’t lost. General manager Tom Telesco has fielded a team this year that looks poised to at the very least compete for the division crown. After a year plagued by injuries, this new Chargers team looks able to rectify the affection that San Diego so naturally feels for our Bolts.

And this just may be their most important season as a franchise.

When else has a team’s performance been so tied to the future state of its existence? My sentiments are not unique. This team needs to prove itself worthy of our devotion. This season, San Diegans will watch their Chargers’ fight to do right by our town, and will decide if they should remain ours. Now, I’m not saying it’s an ultimatum: This is not “make a playoff run or get out.” And good, bad or ugly, I want my Chargers in San Diego where they belong.

But it’s not right that you’re the only one who gets to move on.

Austin Isaacsohn is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

MAY 26, 2016

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