Throughout the often robust discussions here on The Roar one of the debaters will say words to the effect of ‘true fans stick with their team no matter what’, usually followed by accusations of being ‘fairweather fans’.
These days I tend to lean towards the view that professional sport is simply entertainment and the emotional or tribal buy-in is no longer there.
For example, it would seem that the same lack of tribalism and loyalty is no longer a requisite for the players. Sydney Morning Herald columnist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons wrote that current Wallaby squad member Will Genia is about to wind up negotiations for his next Super Rugby contract.
However, it appears Genia is being more than a little hands off. When asked about who he is hoping to play for, Genia said “It’s pretty much finalised. I don’t know where it is. My manager is taking care of that, so I’ll just wait and see where I am going to play.”
Which leads to the question: why should the fans be expected to stick with a team through thick and thin, through good times and bad, when the players don’t really care who they play for?
Next time you want to accuse someone of not being a ‘true fan’ because they have given up following a particular team, stop for a second and ask yourself if the players and coaches have shown the same loyalty, commitment and one-eyed devotion you expect of supporters.
If you do that, you might realise the reason fans are leaving some teams and why large numbers of them are leaving one sport to follow another.
Indeed Peter FitzSimons summed it up nicely, saying “If the players care so little about which jersey they wear, why on earth should rugby fans make a fuss over one team or another. Should we, too, check with our managers to see which team we’re following this year?”.