The buzz after former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas signed for Chelsea FC, is that loyalty is dead. Plot twist: Loyalty in professional sports is dead, and it’s been dead for a while – wake up and smell the rotting corpse everyone.
Luis Figo proved that, when he ditched Barcelona for swanky new digs at Real Madrid, fans reacted furiously, even throwing a pig head at him.
And it’s not just the beautiful game, loyalty is dead across the sporting globe.
In the NBA? There are 18 active players who have played their whole careers with one franchise – seven who were drafted by other teams.
Let’s not forget about the most famous ‘Decision’ and Lebron ‘taking his talents to South Beach.’ That got a few people upset, eh?
How about the NHL where free-agency has ruined any sense of loyalty – where captains like Jerome Iginla or Daniel Alfreddson ditch their respective clubs to chase personal glory.
Heck Ilya Kovalchuk shocked the professional hockey world, ditching a $77 million dollar contract in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils for an even bigger contract in the KHL .
In baseball, just 8 active players have played more than 10 years with a single team – topped by New York Yankee Derek Jeter.
Gone are the days of Joe DiMaggio, Dan Marino, Steve Yzerman, Ryan Giggs and the Paolo Maldini’s – Legends who stuck with their teams through thick and thin. Now players chase personal glory, crave their big pay day.
And can you blame pro athletes? I can’t.
It’s a business and everyone is trying to get their payday or grab another trophy, personal glory.
Can you honestly tell me, if a rival company came to you and offered you more money, more guaranteed years that you wouldn’t consider it? That you wouldn’t jump at the chance to make more money?
Some might say no, but most would be out the door without a guilty second.
And that is the hypocrisy of where we place athletes and the false values we impose on them – it’s a business, whether we like it or not, and
business is about making money.
It’s refreshing to see comments from an athlete like Tottenham Hotspur player Assou-Ekotto, who infamously stated, “I play for the money. Football’s not my passion.”
“All people, everyone, when they go to a job, it’s for the money. So I don’t understand why, when I said I play for the money, people were shocked. Oh, he’s a mercenary. Every player is like that.”
He was lambasted by media, ripped up by fans – but why? Because we hold this idealistic mentality that players should be blindly loyal, play for the ‘love of the game’ and wear their hearts on their sleeves?
Blind loyalty a hopelessly romantic notion, sounds lovely, but it’s just not true anymore in modern sports.
So while Arsenal fans burn Fabregas shirts in the streets and Cleveland fans still reel about ‘The Decision’ – wake up and realize, Loyalty is dead and it’s not coming back.
And as Puff Daddy so eloquently said – it’s all about the Benjamins.