San Diego averages fewer than a single lightning storm per year. One might wonder why a team would choose an emblem that rarely makes a local appearance. The average lightning bolt carries an electrical current of 30,000 amps and can heat the surrounding air up to 20,000 degrees Celsius–that’s over five times hotter than the surface of the sun. The power inherent in a lightning bolt hasn’t really made an appearance in San Diego’s football team this year, either.
Yes, yes, there are multiple meanings with the word “charger” as in the horse that charges forth into battle (like Rivers would want his offensive line to do) and as in being filled with energy (like everyone would want the special teams to have). There are several rumors of the origin of the Chargers’ name related to credit cards and horses, but the truth is pretty straightforward. Then-owner and hotel baron, Barron Hilton, chose the name as it reminded him of the part of the USC game he enjoyed the most: after the bugle riff when everyone yells… yeah, you know. The blue and gold lightning bolts emerged the following year when the uniforms were rolled out (1960).
Long a symbol of power–and containing around one billion volts of electricity, why wouldn’t it be?–lightning bolts are deemed godly weapons. The most obvious figure associated with lightning is Thor, but he’s certainly not alone. The boss gods of most pantheons wield lightning, including Mayan Chaac, Yoruban Shango, and Hindu Indra. Zeus, the third-generation Olympian grand poobah, also had lightning as a specialty. All of them sky gods, all in charge of weather, so they were the ones most in need of copious amounts of groveling to bring the good stuff (rain) while holding back the angry stuff (lightning). And since bolts are long and stabby, of course they had to come from divine dudes. (Divine dudettes usually got assigned to roundish things.)
In Kabbalah, the lightning flash represents the zig-zag path from the first sephiroth (Kether) to the final (Malkuth), from crown to kingdom, used to illustrate the act of creation: an idea becoming manifest. Would that the process were so quick. This time-constrained examiner could use a little lightning express to boost her productivity. Lightning also represents sudden inspiration, the eureka!-moment of sudden understanding. You know, like the moment fans got electrocuted by the Chargers’ loss to the Rams last weekend.
Shakespeare used lightning storms to represent supernatural chaos, which often reflected the chaos of human affairs on the ground. A big storm in MacBeth signals the upheaval of the natural order as Lady MacBeth has just killed the King Duncan in cold blood so that her husband can assume the throne. A murdering woman? A lesser entity slaying the divinely-appointed royal? Real estate cheapskates trying to assemble a winning team while low-balling their free agents?
The Chargers aren’t the only ones seeking to harness the power of the lightning symbol. The power-hungry have co-opted this symbol of raw power throughout history. For example, the SS stylized their initials into double bolts… er, maybe not the most favorable comparison. Commercial interests use it to lend their products the image of power and masculine energy (re: Gatorade, Harley Davidson, AC/DC).
With a 2-4 record entering what should have been an easy opening schedule, the Chargers could use some lightning power.