Maybe it’s the fact that I’m starting to diet for my upcoming fight January 19th but numerous headlines in sports news and the reaction to these headlines by fans have really rubbed me the wrong way. The inspiration for this blog came to me not from MMA but from baseball, though many of the issues I’m going to cover have their place in the entire professional sports world.
Recently it was reported that Josh Hamilton, one of the better outfielders in the game of baseball, did not re-sign with the Texas Rangers, instead leaving Texas for the Anaheim Angels. An outcry from fans and beat writers from the Arlington area about how Hamilton has no loyalty, bringing up dirt about past substance abuse problems and questioning his character is what ensued.
Being from Miami, I had seen this before in the form of Lebron James leaving Cleveland for South Beach. Also, Jon Jones went through character assassination attempts when he and his camp decided not to take an opponent change at the last minute to save a UFC card.
Fans promptly chime in with statements like: “He has no loyalty. He’s not a company man.” “Oh they are so over paid.” “He could have left on better terms,” or “He’s selfish and scared to fight” — all sentiments which are echoed, if not encouraged by beat writers and so called “MMA experts”.
I am now going to break down some of these statements and give examples of how a number of people in “gen pop” (aka general population) are guilty of being hypocrites and how they fuel the very things they say they detest about professional sports/athletes.
“He has no loyalty” might be my favorite of all the ridiculous things fans say when a player doesn’t re-sign with their old team. REALLY people, get a grip on reality, fanatics.
So in the case of King James coming to Miami from Cleveland; how many people living in Cleveland would turn down a job with a better company that was located in sunny south Florida because they felt loyalty to the company who gave them a job coming out of college?
Whether it be because of more money or better location, the percentage of people that would stay in Ohio would be minimal. You want to hold athletes to a higher standard? Why, when players are traded and released when the team has better options?
“He could have left on better terms” is another one that I like. How many times do you hear people say on their last day of work they are going to give everyone at the office a piece of their mind? — “Especially that boss of mine, I’m going to tell him where he can stick this job”– Now I didn’t hear Lebron or Josh make any public statements like that. Fans take notes.
“He is selfish and scared to fight.” First I have to address the being selfish part. I think Jones should be selfish and think about his career and providing for his family before he thinks of anyone else.
None of the other fighters on that card or fans would contribute to the “Jon Jones fund” if he lost to Chael Sonnen, it lead to a series of losses, was cut from the UFC and couldn’t maintain the same lifestyle.
So how many people in the general population are going to take an unnecessary career risk and endanger their family’s quality of life for co-workers? Scared, yup that’s exactly what I would call Jon Jones. I think the scared comment doesn’t even dignify a response.
I could ramble on for pages on how I feel about reporters that spew negativity to grab attention or fans that think athletes should be held to a higher standard because in their minds they are overpaid.
The truth is athletes are only paid a percentage of the money they generate and fans are the ones that fund these percentages. Defamation of an athlete’s character may be therapeutic to some fans or demonizing someone else may make them feel better about their own lives.
I ask fans to look in the mirror before they start their rants of negativity and try to envision a situation in their lives that is relatable. Ultimately though, the joke’s on the fans because they are paying a lot of money for their complaints to fall on the deaf ears of highly paid athletes.
Shah Bobonis is a professional mixed martial arts fighter from Miami, now living in Savannah, Ga., who competes at bantamweight and is currently under contract with Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC). Follow Shah on Twitter at @shahbobonis and on Facebook at Facebook.com/shah.bobonis.