Football is a fantastic case study, and one Mark Schwarzer provides a wonderful example. A big fish in a big sea at Fulham, he was playing regular first team football, was Australia's premier goal keeper and a hero in the eyes of every local football fan. Then he decided to move to Chelsea. No doubt he tripled his bank balance in a few short weeks, but he did so watching from the stands, and the ultimate casualty was Australian football. Without regular first team footy he couldn't expect to stay at the top of his game, and promptly retired before the World Cup.
Of course I am well aware of the age old argument. Players have a limited life span in their sport. As a landscaper slash roofer slash marketer slash whatever else I call myself, I can work comfortably until I am well in to my 70s. A quick perusal of the oldest players still active in major sports shows a player is lucky if he makes it past 40 in his chosen field. Brad Hogg may be 82 when he finally calls it a day, but for everyone else they have limited utility as a sportsman. This means a short window in which to earn enough cash to tide them over during their retirement phase. Chasing the dollar suddenly becomes more understandable. But it isn't always necessary. For someone like Dirk Nannes, who hasn't earned a huge amount of money in his career, chasing franchises all over the world is understandable. For Mark Schwarzer, who has surely earned enough money to fund the national economy of a few Pacific islands, a move to Chelsea makes less sense.
Don't roll your eyes at me. I'm trying to make a point. What do we care about? As a die hard sports fan, do you care about your team winning premierships? The manner in which they play? The way they conduct themselves on and off the field? Or the players and coaching staff? Buddy Franklin signed for the Swans for 9 million and you know what? It makes me sick. Sick as a dog. I was already beating my head over the Tippett acquisition. We lost Jesse White, who, despite a late season charge, was always a bit part player. Yet I would rather have him lining up at full forward than Tippett, and I'd rather have Lewis Roberts-Thomson lining up as ruckman than Buddy. Both blokes who were drafted by us, moulded by us, and turned in to damn fine footballers by us. Sydney boys.
It's not that I don't care about premierships, far from it. When we won in 2005 I cried. When we won in 2012 I cried again, and then attempted to open mouth kiss a good friend who was there at the time, that's how passionate I was (he was a bloke and the case is still before the courts. Sorry Andrew). If Tottenham made the freaking Champions League I'd weep just as I did the day Crouch scored against City at 4:30am Sydney time to sneak us in. I want my team to do well, but doesn't the sheen come off a victory that has been bought? Tottenham could sign Messi tomorrow and I'd probably be on board with it. But the way they have swept out the old and brought in the foreign irks me.
Do you care? Is loyalty gone from the modern game?