Larry Mantle |

Rooting for the 49ers taps into California's rivalries

After the San Francisco 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons for the right to go to the Super Bowl, I tweeted my appreciation of a California team going to the game.  If no local team is in the running (or exists), I'm always glad to root for a Bay Area team that makes it.

My tweet got responses from some Southern Californians who have no interest in supporting a San Francisco team, especially given the Giants' World Series championship.  It goes without saying that many Dodger fans are loathe to support the Giants, under any circumstances. 

Given the historic bad blood between the teams, that's no surprise, but I think it runs even deeper.  The divide between Northern and Southern California is about more than sports, or even water rights.  It's rooted in distinct cultural differences between the two.

However, California has evolved to the point where the bigger cultural divide now might be between coastal and inland regions.  Rural Northern Californians typically dislike San Francisco far more than Angelenos do.  Similarly, inland Southern California residents often see Los Angeles as the prohibitively expensive home of two-hour traffic jams.

Until the Inland Empire or the San Joaquin Valley get major league teams, we won't see that rivalry playing out at a stadium near you.   In the meantime, I'm cheering on the Niners, and my state, on February 3rd.