The Hypocrisy of “Loyalty” in Sports

We will admit right from the start that this post is going to be kind of preachy. Whatever. We don’t care. There isn’t much going on in Days of Y’Orr land.

The Days of Y’Orr staff, to various degrees, has been bothered by how fast fans around Boston have turned on Tim Thomas since his Facebook announcement that he is likely taking next season off.

We’re not talking about the media or writers. It is their job to analyze every little detail and come up with stories. We’re certainly not innocent of trashing various writers but if we stop being dicks for a second (which is incredibly hard for us) we realize that no stories means no jobs for them. That doesn’t excuse people who just flat out make things up out of nowhere (looking at you Eklund and KPD).

At some point in your life as a sports fan, you have almost certainly complained about a player leaving your favorite team over money or playing time or whatever, or at least had a friend that complained about it.

Money seems to be the hot button. Fans will bitch and moan if a player who was making $2 million a year gets an offer from his current team for another year at $2 million and an offer from another team for $4 million a year for five years and takes the bigger offer.

Suddenly the “loyalty” tag gets thrown out. What a disloyal piece of trash that player is! How could he go for more money and security when he could stay here and make less and maybe get injured and get nothing after his year is up!?!? What a dick! Who does that?

All of the Days of Y’Orr staff has steady jobs that we’ve been at for a good number of years. All of us feel that the salary we make should be larger, as we’re sure everyone with a job does. If we put our resumes on a job search website and got an offer from a company for, say, double what we are making, are we supposed to stay with our company because we’ve been there so long?

Hell no. We take the money and run. We have bills to pay, dreams of owning a house and building a life sized Shawn Thornton statue on our lawn. We wouldn’t even have time to pack up our desks. We’d be gone that fast.

And so would each and every one of you. Sure, maybe there are exceptions. Maybe you have a job that you absolutely love or maybe you have a minimal salary and are more than happy just getting by.

Why is it okay for us to do that, but not for an athelete? Where is your loyalty? If you love that player so much, why can’t you just be happy they’re getting what they want and just wish them the best on their new team? Loyalty works both ways folks.

But if you took that new job and your friends starting calling, texting, emailing, Tweeting or whatever the kids do these days and telling you you’re a traitor, or a money grubbing ungrateful asshole, you’re going to get really pissed off. You know you would.


And you’d be really confused as to why they would call you a traitor. So why is it different when an athlete does that?

It is easy to forget these atheletes are “people” just like us. They’re always in the spotlight and we put them on these pedestals and then blame them when they don’t live up to the lofty expectations we forced on them.

Is it great when a player stays with one team his entire career? Of course. But athletes have a very limited shelf life. We look at them and say “psh, this guy makes more per game than I make in a year! Why does he need more money!?”

After the jump….. the rant continues…..

But these players have families. When their careers are over they need to know they have some sort of safety net in case finding a job post-career is hard. They have kids that are going to college, parents they need to take care off, etc, just like us. The only difference is their occupation deteriorates their bodies and they can’t keep making that huge salary forever.

So if you’re an athlete and you’re making $2 million but you’re unhappy with your career or your pay or your team or whatever and you get a better offer, you SHOULD take that. It doesn’t make the player disloyal. It makes the player a realist.

Sure some players who are already set for life have been known to abandon their team for a few extra dollars somewhere new. But again, you probably would too.

Then there are the cases where a player feels his situation is stale or just feels like he needs to move on. Look at Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh. If the rumors are true, he’s finally tired of playing in the shadows of Malkin and Crosby and wants to be in a situation where he can take on a bigger role. Does that make him a disloyal piece of crap?

As sports fans we project the illusion on these players that playing hockey should be the most important thing in their life because that is all we know them as. We don’t know them as people (well, usually anyway). We don’t know how things are for them in their life when they’re off the ice. In a way they are toys to us, objects whose sole purpose is to entertain us and bring us our own version of “glory” by bringing home a championship so we can celebrate and be total dicks to opposing fan bases on Twitter.

Have you ever been at a job and didn’t necessarily desire more money but just a better situation for you? Maybe you don’t get a long with your co-workers. Maybe the love and enthusiasm you had for your job or your city has faded over the years and you just need a change.

So you move on. You spruce up your resume, you send it out to a 1,000 places hoping for a call back as your performance at your current job dwindles because you’re unhappy. Your friends and family will support you, unless they’re total jerks. And when you finally find that new job or move to that new place you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated. So why is it okay for you to do that but not for a professional athlete to do that?

That is why it baffles us to see so many people trashing “one hit wonder” Thomas because he made a few remarks most of us have deemed crazy. Suddenly we discover Tim Thomas has a personality and an opinion and a way of life that is his own and now we’re supposed to hate him for it? Now we’re hoping his rights gets traded this offseason and we’re saying good riddance? We’re turning against him because he made a life choice that he feels is best for him?

Why?

How can fans call a player seeking more money a disloyal crybaby and then call for his head the second his stats slip or when you discover he has an opinion that differs from your own?

How can you Tweet about how you’ll strangle Chiarelli if he doesn’t re-sign Thomas one season then personally offer to dump his ass over the state lines another season?

How can you run and grab a torch and pitchfork and riot on Twitter about how much Tim Thomas “sucks” now and how he’s a selfish asshole when you don’t even know the entire story?

The fact is no one other than Thomas and his family know why Thomas decided not to play. Maybe he didn’t want to get traded. Would you? If your job could just send you anywhere they wanted without your input, is that something you’d want?

Maybe he’s unhappy the organization didn’t stand behind his decision. Maybe he felt betrayed. If so, hey that’s his problem.

Maybe the desire he had just isn’t there anymore. Thomas spent his whole career proving people wrong, proving that he could be great. After winning the Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup in one year maybe he had nothing left to prove to anyone, including himself. It seemed fairly clear late in the season and in the playoffs that Thomas’ focus just wasn’t there. Maybe he just lost his smile.



As a sports fan, and more importantly a Bruins fan, sure from what little we know we’re mad at Thomas. Him walking away just doesn’t feel right. His cap hit really limits what the Bruins can potentially do in free agency or any potential trades. On the surface it seems selfish to just walk away from his teammates without a real explanation. He seems to be giving the city of Boston a giant middle finger and walking into the sunset.

But realistically we don’t deserve an explanation. His teammates do. But that is about it. No media members, no bloggers, no fans, etc have the right to know why Thomas made the decision he did. Look around Twitter and Facebook and you’ll see idiotic comments like these: 


One season wonder? Okay buddy. On your way to pushing Tim Thomas permantely out of Boston’s door, why don’t you stop and think about how there is no Stanley Cup championship in 2011 without Tim Thomas.

Timmy had a historic playoff run because he wanted that Cup more than anyone. He needed it to justify his career to himself apparently. Let’s stop pretending here…he literally stole that Cup for Boston. The Bruins may have been the most exciting team or the most “together” team but they certainly weren’t the “best” team in the playoffs. But they had the best goalie. Thomas bailed them out time and time again by posting historic numbers during their Stanley Cup run.

While everyone is bashing Thomas for a decision we don’t know the reasons behind and saying how he really sucks and how the Bruins are better off without him, I’ll be remember Thomas for this:



And this:



And this:



And this:



And this:

And this:



And most importantly… this: 



So Timmy… if by some chance you ever read this… thank you. It was a pleasure to watch you. Thank you for every seemingly impossible save. Thank you for the passion you brought to the ice. Thank you for literally defending your crease with your firsts. And most importantly… thank you for bringing Boston the first Stanley Cup I’ve seen in my lifetime. 

Am I mad at the way you’re leaving? Of course. But I don’t know the reasons. Maybe they’re good. Maybe they’re not. But they’re your reasons. I’d rather you leave the the team than go another season if you’re heart is no longer in it. From what little I know you’re leaving and it is sort of screwing over the team and you seem like a bit of a jerk. But if you honestly think you’re doing what is best for you and your family, who am I to argue that?

I won’t go on Twitter and say you suck. I won’t say the team never really needed you. I won’t say Boston would have still won the Cup last year with Rask in goal. You were one of my all time favorite players. Ten years down the line when I think about your career in Boston I won’t think about your quirky Facebook posts that I didn’t agree with or the way you left Boston. I think of what you did on the ice, and only that.

Unlike all these idiots on Twitter and Facebook and random hockey forums, I don’t hate you. I don’t think you suck simply because you’re doing what you think is best for you and your family, even if that doesn’t include hockey.

You were one of the most exciting Bruins to watch in team history. Thank you for giving us the confidence that you would make that big save when the game is on the line.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do, whether that is retire for good, play for another team eventually, coach, etc. Bruins fans everywhere will miss you, even if they can’t admit it right now. We’re mad at you Timmy. But we’re also very thankful.

 

About Jon

Jon loves Batman, The Joker, the Bruins and hates you. Especially you. He has a man crush on David Backes and hopes to someday be Mrs. Jon Boychuk.

Quantcast