Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jones: In sports business, don't expect athletes to match fans' loyalty

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates after he shoots and scores the game winning goal in the shoot out to beat the Winnipeg Jets with a final score of 6 to 5 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (02/18/16). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  


Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates after he shoots and scores the game winning goal in the shoot out to beat the Winnipeg Jets with a final score of 6 to 5 at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday evening (02/18/16). DIRK SHADD | Times

A few words about loyalty in sports.

As much as we hate to admit it, the cold reality is sports are a business. For the athletes, it's a job. For franchises, it's an investment.

Sure, they care about winning. That's why you saw LeBron James crying when the Cavs won the NBA title. That's why you saw Steph Curry walking off the floor dejectedly when his Warriors lost to the Cavs. Owners fire coaches, coaches bench players and it's because they do try to win.

But as we wondered if Steven Stamkos will leave Tampa Bay and if Kevin Durant will leave Oklahoma City and if LeBron will stay in Cleveland, we can't look at it in terms of loyalty. Emotion is not part of the equation.

Loyalty in sports works like this:

A player signs a contract. He gets paid by the team. And when the contract is up, everything is square. He doesn't owe the team anything and the team doesn't owe him anything.

Players should be entitled to leave without being called traitors, just as teams should be allowed to let players go without being called ungrateful.

A player should not feel obligated to give teams "hometown discounts'' or stay in a city just because he hasn't brought them a championship. His first and only obligations are to himself and his family.

Fans have an emotional attachment to players and they are allowed to feel disappointed when a player leaves. But they should not feel betrayed. A player does his best while under contract. If a better opportunity comes along, he should be allowed to explore it, just as a team should be allowed, even encouraged, to bring in better players if it helps the team win.

In other words, there is no loyalty in sports. Nor should there be.

Jones: In sports business, don't expect athletes to match fans' loyalty 06/24/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2016 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No. 21 USF Bulls roll over Temple to stay undefeated

    College

    TAMPA — They emerged from Raymond James Stadium's southwest tunnel on the 11-month anniversary of their public humilation at Temple.

    Bulls tailback Darius Tice, who rushes for 117 yards, is elated by his 47-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
  2. Fennelly: USF thrashes Temple to stay unbeaten; too bad not many saw it in person

    College

    No. 21 USF ran its record to 4-0 Thursday night with some payback against Temple, a 43-7 trouncing, no contest, as if anyone cares, at least judging by the paltry announced crowd of 24,325 at Raymond James Stadium.

    Where was everybody?

    Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols (3) celebrates with teammates after making a defensive play during the first half.
  3. Former Ray Tim Beckham's over being traded, or is he?

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — As the Rays reunited Thursday with Tim Beckham for the first time since he was dealt July 31 to Baltimore, it became very clear that not everything in assessing the trade is as it appears.

    Tim Beckham, here in action Monday against the Red Sox, has hit .310, with 10 homers and 26 RBIs since going to the Orioles.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    The Rays still talk about having a shot to make the playoffs. But recognizing and correcting mistakes will help them next year, such as Mallex Smith trying to steal third in the first. "Those are the little things we've got to find how to eliminate real quick," manager Kevin Cash said.

  5. Bucs probe how to fix deep-ball chances missed vs. Bears

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.

    QB Jameis Winston says he’s focused on the deep-ball chances to DeSean Jackson he missed in the opener: “We left a lot out there.”