MOST fans follow and support one team from their childhood to adulthood. It is unheard of to change alliances, understandably so.
But what happens when a child fan becomes an adult sportsman? Are they allowed to still support their childhood team, or they have to support the team they play for? What about the player’s family and friends? Can they change alliances?
Recently in Italy, Mario Balotelli, the 19 years old Inter Milan player, got himself in trouble with some Inter fans after he was seen at the San Siro watching AC Milan play Man United in the Champions League and he confessed that he is an AC Milan fan and has been since childhood.
Is this right or wrong? Let’s say we agree that one has to support the team they are currently playing for — then Andy Cole must have changed his heart a few times from Fulham, Bristol City, Newcastle, Man United, Blackburn Rovers, Man City and so on.
The same fans that support the same team for life have changed jobs a few times to advance their careers, or for other reasons, which brings me to my second point. Why is it okay for fans to change jobs, but not players?
The media was debating about the kind of reception Michael Owen was going to receive on his first return to play against Liverpool at Anfield with Man United. It was shocking after what he had done for the team during his several years there to be booed by the fans who once idolized him.
Are we saying players are not allowed to change teams but us as fans are allowed to change jobs?
Players change clubs for different reasons — from getting more game time; better pay; seeking trophies; not getting along with the manager or players; through to a personal desire to change scenery.
Most of these reasons overlap with why fans change their everyday jobs as well, so instead of booing and insulting your favourite player for jumping ship, embrace him for what he did for your team.
I think an exception to this would naturally be players who quit then go on to bad-mouth their former employers – the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Ashley Cole.
As a fan of the Bulls rugby team in South Africa, I am looking forward to the return of Brian Habana to Loftus with his new team, the Stormers.