Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is there any loyalty left in sports?

It is not often you see players playing for only one team throughout their career. This has not always been the case though so why the change.

The following link shows a list of one-club players. The trend I immediately noticed is that the majority of these players were in the game years ago.

You do however see some players from today's era. There are players such as Francesco Totti at Roma, Ryan Giggs at Manchester United and Carlos Puyol and Xavi at Barcelona.

However what you will even notice here is these are players at top teams, Champions league teams. You don't see many, if any at low level teams such as my team Blackburn Rovers. As a Blackburn fan I have seen many great talents playing at Ewood but eventually they move on. But can we really blame them is the question. We talk about loyalty but we have to understand the players position too. They want to be the best they can be and teams in Blackburn's position are not going to be able to offer them regular European football. I think most fans understand that and it is not the players leaving that gets to fans it is the way the players go about it. Two perfect examples are Phil Jones and Chris Samba.

I strongly believe, and have no grudge towards, Phil Jones for leaving Blackburn. He left in the summer after having a great season in which he played a huge part in saving the club from relegation. We got a lot of money for a young player and for him personally it was time for him to challenge himself on another level.

Chris Samba on the other hand is going about it completely the wrong way. I understand that he himself feels let down by the owners but coming out an saying you don't think you can give 100% anymore to the club that is paying you an outragous salary and has brought you from a team where you were not in the starting line up. Blackburn put Chris Samba on the map and he should appreciate that and at least help the team get through this season and help keep us in the league and then in the summer you can push for that move and force your hand. But what he is doing know is disrupting the club in a crucial part of the season and history of the team.

It is not only the players that lack loyalty however. In the modern game which is now very money driven and business like. Players are seen as assets and money makers for owners, agents etc. They are not given the loyalty that players once were. They know that a bad season can mean the end of there time at a club no matter how many good years they have given to the club. The amount of money in modern sports is the main reason for the dimise of loyalty in sports. Lower level teams need the income from the sale of there best players to survive and the top teams cannot afford to carry players that have given 10 plus years to the team in the risk of missing out on Champions league football and the revenue that it brings.

It is not just in football that this is happening. In american sports there is the same problem. The big teams are able to offer not only bigger wage packets but exposure to the bigger media interest leading to bigger advertising and marketing deals for these players. Look at the NBA the superstars are all pulled towards the big city media in the cities of Miami, New York and LA. However hats off to Kevin Love for recently signing a long deal with Minnesota.

That is another thing though contracts really mean nothing in sports anymore. Look at Samba again he only just signed a long 5 year contract but it was really just a way for him to get more money. Money is the drving power in todays sports world and money and loyalty do not fit together at all well. This makes it hard for us average sports fans to have idols as players pass in the blink of an eye rather than an era of a sports team. 

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