As a sports fan, I have very few expectations for the teams and the players I root for. I look to them for entertainment on Sunday and Monday night, where for three hours I don’t have to worry about my mortgage or my job or the braces my kid is going to need. I do not look to them for religious guidance or help raising my children.
I think most fans feel the same way I do. Now I realize that you, the professional athlete, don’t give two hoots about my opinion, but you have to realize, in the end, the fans pay your salary. You might not like to hear it, but without 75,000 people watching you every Sunday and millions of households tuned in on TV, you won’t have a job. So, I have a few suggestions to guide you in your daily life.
1. Do keep in shape. Really – you only have one job, and it involves, in a very large part, your athleticism. Is it so hard, with unlimited access to world class training facilities and a bevy of trainers, masseuses, and support staff, to exercise every day and not eat like a teenager?
2. Don’t break the law. I really don’t care what you do in your own home. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as you get 10 sacks a year or an interception or two. However, break the law and you are an idiot. Want to go somewhere while you are hammered? Get a driver. Your girlfriend wants to get into a fight with you? Walk away and find a new one (I am sure you have plenty of options).
3. Do play hard every play. Nothing drives a fan angrier than a guy loafing it. You have a job that millions dream about, a job playing sports. Don’t ruin it by slacking off because the GM won’t discuss your next contract extension with you until the offseason.
4. If you screw up, do apologize and don’t question our loyalty. If you stomped on a guy’s arm in the heat of battle, just apologize and say you lost it for a second. We the fans have all done something stupid in our lives (oh, Amsterdam, why won’t you let me back in?), but we are quick to forgive if you are quick to apologize. If we disagree with one of your actions, don’t tell us that “true fans” would support you. We are fans, not idiots, and not sheep.
The top four are the most basic, simple rules to follow. Do these and 98% of the fan base will support you. Don’t do them, and find out how quickly “Suh” becomes “Boo”.
Outside of the top four listed above, there are a few more that are also things to keep in mind.
5. Don’t complain about money. You signed a contract, under the terms and conditions your union negotiated. If you play well and your value increases, have your agent talk to your team and maybe you guys can work something out. But the public won’t understand if you bitch about it, and we really won’t understand if you refuse to honor your current contact.
6. Do keep your religion to yourself. Live your life and let your actions be the testament to your faith. And this goes for everyone, not just for professional athletes.
7. Don’t speak your mind. Chances are you aren’t going to say anything that is useful or beneficial or intelligent anyway. Sure, there are some among you who are normal and aren’t tainted by a lifetime of having people cater to you because of your athletic ability, but in general, you are better off with the canned responses that we have come to know and love. As a side note – it is ok and expected to lie to us. Tell us you respect your opponent when you really don’t. Tell us it was the wind. Don’t tell us you had a bad game because you stayed up until four in the morning eating buffalo wings and playing World of Warcraft.
8. Do enjoy it. We understand that you are young, rich, desired, and probably don’t have beer gut. If you keep to the rules above, we have no issues with you hanging out at bars or tweeting pictures of yourself with cheerleaders or celebrities or porn stars. I doubt any of us would do it any differently.
Next week – rules for the fan base.