Transferring Loyalty

Although creativity is a part of my DNA, I’ve never been accused of being progressive in my viewpoints. Perhaps that goes back to the strong connection with my dad, who saw the value in change but also the necessity for common sense. Change that had no root in common sense was not held in high regard by him.

He, and me, valued loyalty and dependability. Come to think of it, dependability was wrapped up in the jacket of loyalty. It was meshed up in the fabric of our culture.

Somewhere along the line, things changed for the quality of loyalty in our culture’s viewpoint. Loyalty went from the front seat to getting pushed into one of the corners of the trunk, wedged in between faithfulness and integrity.

Many would disagree with me on this next view, but I’m not offended in the least. The college transfer portal system for athletics is the new world where loyalty has been replaced by “let me leave!” Athletes, blessed with scholarships that cover the cost of a college education, change schools as often as airlines change flight departure times. I’ve noticed that TV game announcers even put in little blurbs about the past resumes of players, letting the viewers know that #11 has been at two other schools before his present one. It’s now said as naturally as someone ordering cheese for his hamburger.

This morning I noticed that the sidebar on the ESPN web site consisted mostly of one-liners about current players who had decided to enter the portal. I’m fully aware of how quickly coaches can get hired, fired, move on, or move out. Athletes should have some of the same freedom, but it’s becoming excessive.

Being a season ticket holder for Air Force basketball, there’s no one transferring in. Who is there as an incoming cadet is who will be there for the next four years, except for those who decide the academy is not for them. Of course, the academy’s values begin with integrity and service before self.

Nowadays, it’s not so much about service and sacrifice, but about oneself. Thus, transferring loyalty from one higher institution of learning to another is as easy as switching jerseys. Some players are more concerned with making sure they get their desired jersey number, then they are about the teammates and fan base they left behind.

Once again, it’s just one of the many indicators that loyalty is not what it used to be. Back in my very younger days, I used to pretend I was Louie Dampier, Dan Issel, Pat Riley, and Larry Conley playing against Tennessee. My arena was the school’s basketball court down the street from us. I’d do the play-by-play as the Wildcats took it to the Volunteers. I knew the names and even their shot selection.

Not so anymore. I couldn’t tell you who played for Kentucky this year. Most of them arrived in August and will depart in May, not long enough for me to even figure out how to pronounce their names…and finding it hard to even care.

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