On the Bench: Requesting a trade is selfish, but a luxury athletes have a right to

Last month, when it was announced that Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, fans were outraged. To be fair, the petition was a little baffling given that the team had won its first championship just 13 months prior and things seemed to be progressing pretty well.

Many sports fans took to social media to bash the basketball star and voice their displeasure after hearing the shocking news. Actually, I think that if you look hard enough you can still find a parody of Eminem’s “Stan,” featuring LeBron James and Irving, floating around somewhere on the interwebs.

In recent years, it appears as though a trend has begun of athletes asking to be traded; often before their contracts are up. Some may recall that a month prior, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera requested that his agent arrange a trade from the Mets, citing reasons such as lack of communication and the team’s losing streak.

It can be argued that athletes should have a level of loyalty for the teams which they play for. That only seems right given that sports fans are often fiercely loyal to one team and even ingrain that same passion into the generations that come after them. Naturally, it stings when your favorite player asks to leave the team that you love so dearly.

However, as fans, we should bear in mind that these players are still businessmen who have to consider their careers. If they aren’t being treated fairly, or are not given opportunities to grow while on that team, athletes must seriously weigh the pros and cons of joining another team versus sticking it out for the remaining time that they signed for.

I dare liken this decision-making process to any doctor, lawyer or artist who has to make the difficult choice of resigning from a position they love, but which seems like a dead end. Yes, the staff is nice, the location may be perfect, but if you picture yourself in the same spot years down the road and that’s not where you want to be, you have the right to reconsider your options. I might even add that the pressure of making such a decision may be greater for an athlete, given the fewer years they have to make it as a legendary star or risk retiring quietly and relatively unknown. Let’s be honest, no one wants to see their life’s work go unnoticed.

So, we’re passionate about our sports teams; and that’s understandable. Yet, we shouldn’t let that fire assist us in dehumanizing the athletes that we claim to love so much. The fact of the matter is that they have important career decisions to make just as we do. Thus, while we may not always be thrilled or even pleased by the outcomes of the choices they make, we should at least respectfully acknowledge them and keep our focus on the teams we faithfully root for.

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