Sports fandom is a very tricky. You can worship a player one day, and call him a cunt the next. You can pledge your allegiance to a racist, an adulterer or hell even a guy who hangs out with Lil Wayne and you can do it with no problems – all because that guy happens to wear your team’s colors.
But as soon as that player leaves – hell even if he just thinks about leaving – then your allegiances shift. Suddenly, what everyone says about a particular player is true. Luis Suarez is no longer a misunderstood genius; he’s a racist psychopath. Cesc Fabregas is no longer the heir apparent to Xavi (Ahem, he never was); he’s a mentally fragile prima donna who never took responsibility for any of his shortcomings.
This is the norm, and we choose to accept this as fans, as supporters of a particular club. As soon as a player leaves the club we support, we underestimate their accomplishments at our club. Cesc? Overrated. Suarez? He’s a cunt.
Likewise, when the club makes a signing, fans will turn into analytics geniuses and tell you exactly what the player will do and how effectively he will do it because he is now a part of a particular club or system. Most of the time, we do this before a player has even played a minute for our team.
I understand the appeal of that. It’s easier and more fun to project our hopes and dreams into a particular player than confront the reality of what it is the player actually does. Quoted in Bryan Curtis’s piece about the Trade Rumor Era, Henry Abbott of TrueHoop had this to say about “silly season”:
“The Finals are about the Heat and the Spurs, LeBron James and Tim Duncan,” said Henry Abbott, ESPN.com’s NBA editor. “But LeBron James’s free agency is about everybody’s imagination. Now your team may get LeBron. You can project your dreams onto it.”
Isn’t that more fun than waiting to see what someone can actually do? Isn’t it more fun to look at Matheiu Debuchy and Calum Chambers’s stats (accomplished at two different teams that employ two different systems, mind you) and analyze who should be the better right back for Arsenal going forward?
Of course it is. It’s also very silly.
Another silly thing about transfer season is what has happened with Frank Lampard, whose only sin is to sign with another team in an attempt to prolong his career. Apparently, Frank Lampard, who Chelsea declined to offer a contract extension to, has decided to go on loan to Manchester City, the parent club of New York City FC. This is because Fat Frank wants to stay in shape until the MLS season kicks off in March, which, you know, makes sense.
It also makes sense for a club like Manchester City because they need to have at least eight home grown players to keep in compliance with UEFA and Financial Fair Play. It’s a good move for both parties.
Of course, that’s not how Chelsea fans see it. According to them, Lampard has committed the sin of joining a Chelsea rival, with a lot of Twitter users voicing their displeasure. (Sadly, the only jersey burn so far seems to be a hoax. But it’s coming.)
They’re confused as to why a player they didn’t want to resign in the first place would decide to prolong his career at another club, the champions no less. This, of course, is normal fan behavior.
It’s almost logical.