Michael MacCambridge's 2004 America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation:
One of the central illusions of sport is that a group of athletes wearing a certain uniform can represent an entire city. And one of the wonders of sport is that the repeated exercise of that illusion, through many years and many athletes, can serve to make it a reality.
The Oakland Raiders were a privately held business, but like virtually all professional sports franchises that had remained solvent long enough to become successful, they occupied a unique position in their community. The Raiders had become part of the city's identity, and succeeded in part because of that connection. The people of Oakland and other East Bay communities -- who had supported the franchise, financed a new stadium in the '60s, and through more than a decade of sellouts helped make the Silver-and-Black one of the most recognizable franchises in the sport -- could plausibly be said to possess a stake in the team that went beyond a narrow consideration of legal ownership. Too often these feelings of loyalty are dismissed, but they were at the very heart of the appeal of spectator sports in the late twentieth century.
While this would be true about any city that supported a franchise for more than two decades, it was particularly true of long-mocked cities like Baltimore, Cleveland, and Oakland. At some level, the football team became identified with and evoked a truth about the larger city. "You'd go anywhere in the world and you say, 'I'm from Oakland,' " recalled the actor Tom Hanks. "And people would say, 'Is that where the Oakland Raiders play?' And it'd be 'Yes, that's right, where the Oakland Raiders play.' "
Tags: Michael MacCambridge, America's Game