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Why Most Fans Blame the Players

I imagine most people reading this have a favorite team. And over time, you’ve likely had numerous players on that team whom you particularly enjoyed watching play. But when push comes to shove, who receives your greatest loyalty, the team or the players?

I’m a Cardinals fan, and I greatly enjoyed Albert Pujols‘ contributions to the Redbirds’ success during his 11 years wearing the birds on the bat. Since he’s left St. Louis? Sure, I’ve been happy for him when he’s done well — getting his 3,000th hit as well as his 500th and 600th home runs — but it’s not the same. He’s an Angel now, not a Cardinal, so I’m simply not as invested in his accomplishments.

This stance is probably understandably similar for most of you. Teams are (mostly) eternal, while players are ephemeral. Can I name the starting eight position players for the 2011 Cardinals? Probably not, but I still know they won the World Series that year.

When it gets flipped, however, is when we go off the playing field and into the negotiating room. When the owners and players are battling over matters of the game — particularly the divvying up of the loot — I largely stand behind the players. The owners become the faceless, monolithic corporations that extort billion-dollar ballparks from their communities and work extremely hard to give the players as small a portion of the pot as possible, while the players have short careers and are positioning themselves to take care of their families as much as possible before their careers end.

Of course, it’s not that cut-and-dried. Both sides have their virtuous and unseemly characteristics. Each group is willing to put their interests before others.

But regardless of who sticks it to whom for their own benefit, it’s largely the players who suffer the vitriol of the fans and media when the two sides clash. The question is, why is that? The answers actually make a lot of sense — even if they really don’t. Read the rest of this entry »