What do the Sacramento Kings, Arizona Cardinals, and Chicago Cubs (until a few days ago) have in common? They are the pro sports teams that have gone the longest without a championship.
In our society unconditional loyalty is held up as a quality we should all strive after. Anyone who abandons their team is viewed as a quitter, or not a true fan. I think the time has come to rethink the role of loyalty in our lives through the prism of sports.
Blind (unconditional) loyalty leads to the acceptance of bad behavior. Why should sports teams spend the money and resources to improve if they are supported by fans (short for fanatic) no matter how terrible the team is? There is no incentive for the owner, coach, or president to spend more money if a bad product still produces a good profit. We don’t follow this same procedure in other areas of our lives. Think about going to a restaurant for several years and it serves good food, has good service, and charges a fair price. All of a sudden the restaurant food deteriorates and you go back several times but it never gets better. How long would it take you to stop going to the restaurant? I would say pretty quickly! However, with our fan support we do not see it the same way. We continue to support bad teams year after year.
So what is the solution? The solution is conditional loyalty which means, “if you do X, I will do Y”. It is an understood and most likely unspoken agreement between two parties. In sports it would be something like this, “If the sports team gives visible effort and tries on a yearly basis to make improvement, I as a fan will support them monetarily”(via tickers, merchandise, etc). People will say, “but i’ve been a fan of the Kings for 25 years!” Just because you have done something for a long time doesn’t mean it is a good decision.
We need not only to look at our sports allegiances through this prism but also our relationships. We have to learn to hold others accountable and expect excellence from all of our relationships. Open communication and expectations strengthen both individuals in a relationship. If someone thinks they might lose someone/something they will fight to keep it. Blind loyalty is ignorant, sad, and enabling behavior that is the easy road. Demanding excellence in all areas of your life takes a skills set of being able to confront and being willing to walk away from bad relationships. It’s not the easy road.
Re-evaluate your sports and life allegiances, don’t be afraid of being called a quitter or fair weather fan. Find teams and relationships where you both work hard and keep each other on your toes. Demand Excellence!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder