Once upon a time, there were employees who had a job for life. Starting at 15, working for the one company for 50 years before retiring with a gold watch.
And on the weekend, their sporting heroes would play one game for one club through their sporting careers.
Loyalty was given. Loyalty was expected back.
But those days are long gone.
Increasingly, today’s sports stars are travelling players for hire.
When Sonny Bill Williams walked out on the Bulldogs, he embarked on a nomadic odyssey through French rugby, various Super Rugby franchises and the boxing ring. He’s now back in rugby league with the Roosters on a handshake deal he already regrets before he’ll leave again.
Israel Folau played two years at the Storm, two at the Broncos, then had two years playing AFL at GWS Giants. After his contract negotiations to play NRL for Parramatta took too long and became mired in difficulties, he’s on a short-term contract to play rugby for the Waratahs.
In cricket, there’s big coin on offer to play the world T20 franchise circuit; with players going to the highest bidder.
Quade Cooper blasted the toxic culture in rugby and did a runner.
Kurt Tippett put a release clause in a separate AFL contract at Adelaide, and put a high price on his head to ensure he would be drafted by the Swans. And the list goes on.
“Disloyal mercenaries” comes the call from the fans. “Money grabbers. What about loyalty?”
But what about loyalty? There’s precious little of it from clubs. Loyal one-club players get de-listed by their clubs, or offered as trade bait. Forced to take pay cuts so a big name player can be squeezed into the salary cap. Can be shown the door on a whim.
But what of the fans themselves in their own working lives?
The days of a job for life are long gone. Workers receive no loyalty from their employers any more.
Employees can be made redundant on a whim, forced out in a merger or constructively dismissed. Forced into casual contracts.
Workers are expendable, their jobs could disappear at any time. A loyal employee, through no fault of their own, can get thrown onto the unemployment scrap-heap at any time without warning.
And the workers know it. Increasingly, especially among the younger workers, the Generation-Ys; the workers will show as much loyalty as they expect to receive. None.
The length of employment periods is getting shorter. Workers float from job to job, industry to industry. Chasing the dollars, chasing the opportunities, broadening the experience horizons.
Modern-day workers, especially the Gen-Y workers, know the system. They play it to their advantage. Loyalty is for losers in the modern-day workforce. It’s all about what you can get out of an employer before moving on to the next one.
That’s modern life. In business and sport.
The likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau may be written off by some as money-hungry mercenaries. But really, are they nothing more than typical Generation-Y employees?