The Washington Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper is an outspoken young man, and he’s a sports fan. The two don’t seem to be combining well for Nationals fans lately.
Many on Twitter and in local media have made a pretty big deal about the teams that Harper cheers for; they include the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, and Duke Blue Devils. As you read through that list, your first reaction is probably not great, and that’s understandable. However, in the grand scheme of things, who cares?
Here’s what does matter. Harper is under contract with the Nationals for a long while, and according to his Twitter account, he’s psyched to be playing in DC. Beyond that, nothing else matters. To me, Harper’s honesty is actually refreshing. The easy way out would be to come to DC, after living thousands of miles away for 18 years, and say “GO [insert DC sports team here]!” He isn’t. He’s sticking to his guns, and that’s to be commended.
The larger point here is a professional athlete, like Harper, almost never gets to play for the team they grew up cheering for. Players play where they get drafted or signed, and then they go where the money is. That’s their right, and it should be what they do. They have an invaluable skill set, and they know it. They want to go where they’re going to be paid the most for those skills. We just know who Harper cheers for because chooses to be outspoken about being a fan. That’s something to which we can all relate.
Further, the idea that Harper is just going to sign with the Yankees at the end of his contract with the Nationals because they’re his favorite team is ludicrous. Sure, the Yankees have a ton of money, so he could end up signing with the Yankees. And if he does sign there, it isn’t going to be because he’s a fan; it’s because that’s where the money is. Don’t forget, the Nationals have plenty of money, and they will re-sign Harper if they believe it makes financial sense at that time. But again, we’re talking years down the road.
Remember, professional athletes were fans long before they were among the best in their sport, and it’s easy to forget that. So you shouldn’t be so hard on Bryce Harper, because it doesn’t matter who he cheers for. All that matters is he works hard, gets better, and makes an impact in DC as soon as possible, because that’s the only way the Nats are going to start winning.