“I need to do what’s best for my family. They know that. My little girl, I want to give her the best opportunities and life and I’ll see what those opportunities are.”
Sound familiar? It certainly does to me.
It’s a football player justifying why they’re looking to renege on a deal or perhaps just abandon one club in the pursuit of more money at another.
Today it’s John Bateman, but tomorrow it will be someone else.
We’ve heard it too many times to count. Football players doing “what’s best for my family”, which equals chasing more money somewhere else.
And when we hear these words what is the response from teammates, from journalists, from coaches, from fans? We nod. We may not like it, but we say fair enough. You have to do what’s right for your kids.
I don’t mean to pick on Bateman in particular, but his story is a classic – and most recent – example of greed over loyalty.
Bateman was signed from Wigan for this season – the Raiders having paid a £200,000 transfer fee to bring him to the NRL – for three years on around $400,000 annually.
He has been a good buy thus far, no doubt. His contribution in getting the Raiders to their first grand final in 25 years has been significant.
Thus, he is seeking a substantial pay rise, which may not be possible for Canberra with their salary cap situation. Furthermore, according to NRL.com, Bateman is “likely to consider his options in the off-season if he [is] unable to gain an upgrade”.
The fact that this is not widely criticized is a sad reflection of society’s values. Bateman is being paid considerably more than the most important people in society earn – enough for a magnificent house, anything one wishes to eat, brand new clothes and toys, and whatever else one wants to buy.
It is enough to send a child through the most prestigious private school and enough to fly back to the UK for holidays every year.
On top of that, and by Bateman’s own admission, his coach has been like a father to him, he has become a cult hero in the town in which he lives, and he has the chance to win premierships with his teammates – a team Ricky Stuart has described as the closest he has been involved with.
Is that enough for the modern man to be loyal? No. He wants more. And he is willing to eschew one of the values that humanity holds dear – loyalty – to get it.
While the Canberra ‘fans’ are asked to remain loyal to the club despite rising ticket prices and players leaving, often the players show none of the same.