Fellow Sports Fans,
I appreciate you. I appreciate all that you do. The face and body paint, the signs at games, the harassing of opposing players, the marches to games and the watch parties for playoff games. There is nothing better than a bar full of you, every race, gender, political view, etc. all reaching a common ground and wanting a common goal. This alone is what makes sport the universal language of the world. It is what makes sport so special, and what makes being a fan a truly unique experience.
Now I am like you in many ways. Some would say that the city I cheer for (Cleveland) is some of the most fanatical and insane people in the country, simply for continuing to think that the Browns will return to relevancy. But while being a fan brings a lot of positivity to the experience of sport, it also leads to an ugly side of each of us being shown when things don’t go how we expect or would like them to.
Most notably in recent memory, we need to stop burning players at the stake when they would like to change teams. I get it. I lived through “The Decision” and LeBron “taking his talents to South Beach”. While it stung, a lot, especially because of where he was born and raised, I understood. When ownership is bringing Shaq in at 36 as a big time signing to get you to the next level of championship parades, I would have left too. He was 25 and made a decision for his future. HIS future, not ours. HIS career, not yours.
This is what is bothering me terribly now as I watch people in Utah burn Gordon Hayward jerseys (who is not from Utah, had no ties there, and made a decision for his future and his family’s future), or as I watch my own fellow fans in Cleveland rip Kyrie Irving for wanting to leave in a trade to take the next step in his career. If we watch any average business man make a switch in a job for a promotion or larger role, we don’t blink an eye. Any person outside the role of star player, we don’t hold accountable in the same right. A coach leaves for a bigger job “it’s part of the business”, but when a player does, all hell breaks loose.
What we need to remember is, that often times, especially in basketball, these players are being told where they will start their career at 18, 19, and 20 years old. The college graduate gets to say “hey I want to move to city X and I am going to look for my job and start in life there”. These athletes don’t get that choice. They are told what part of the country they will be in for the next 5 years of their lives, if they don’t get traded beforehand.
Now I am not naïve enough to think that living the dream of many young kids all around the world in being a professional athlete isn’t worth just getting drafted to any city in order to do your dream job. Any person fresh out of college would probably do the same if it was the dream job. But we need to stop acting like they have to have loyalty to our city and our team. We are the first job for these athletes. How many people switch their jobs within a year out of college? We are lucky to have these athletes in our towns for as long as we do. We get to have them in the community, and helping support our fanatics and dreams of championships. When they decide it is time to make a career move for their own personal future and what they think is best for them, let’s stop making it about us, and appreciate what they have given us. Because when you make your next career move for a better opportunity, you are no different than them. Sports is a business first and foremost, don’t forget that.
Stay Classy Sports Fans.