We say we are fans of our team ’till the death. My dad was a Knick fan, his dad was a Knick fan– it’s in my blood. I will always bleed orange and blue. No matter how bad the team is (and believe me, as a Knick fan it’s been bad), I’ll always pull for them.
When it comes to players it’s a little different, but not much. As long as they are on your team, you are a fan. No matter how much Eddie Curry underperformed (and boy did he underperform), while he was on my team, I rooted for him. Until they hit free agency (or are traded), they’re my guy.
But what happens when a player struggling on the court isn’t the issue? What if it’s a bigger problem?
During a recent game, Toronto Blue Jay’s shortstop Yunel Escobar painted a gay slur under his eyes. He has since apologized and claimed he didn’t mean to offend anyone, but the fact of the matter is, he did it. He is not the first to act with such insensitivity (in fact one of my Knicks, Amare Stoudemire did something similar), and certainly will not be the last. So the question is, as fans, how do we react to something like this?
If you are an Orioles fan, it’s easy: you just hate Escobar even more than you do every other Blue Jay. But what if you are a fan of the Bluebirds? Your father was, your father’s father was… you swear by them. The next time Escobar comes to the plate, do you boo or do you cheer?
When the Stoudemire case arose this summer (in his case it was a homophobic slur through a tweet), I was very angry. You are a professional athlete that represents the team and the city that I love You are a role model, whether you like it or not. Little kids wear your jersey. Iwear your jersey. Should I still though?
For me, the answer, at least momentarily, is no. I cannot in good conscious wear his name on my back. Nor will I cheer for him so long as I believe he has not changed his ways. An apology after the tweet is a publicity necessity– how am I to know if he has really changed his ways?
I do believe in second chances– if Stoudemire can prove to me that he has changed, I can go back to rooting for him. Whether you believe he has (see the Michael Vick divide), is another thing. But until that point, whether he is a Knick or not, Stoudemire is no player of mine.
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