As a sports fan I think that I am a bit wiser than I was in my younger years. I’ve come to understand that sports is a business and that getting attached to players is just a bad idea. Unlike my younger days when players actually played for one team their entire careers, it rarely happens in sports today.
As the General Manager of the BC Lions, Wally Buono has to make tough decisions each year. He can’t build a football team for the future by clinging to the past and as Lions fans saw last season with the trade of Geroy Simon, no one is untouchable when the boss feels a different direction is needed.
So in Friday when fan favourite and eight year Lions Korey Banks was traded, I like many fans was disappointed, but the rational part of me just considered it business as usual.
The reasons for the trade were two-fold if you read between the lines of what has been reported. Banks himself was not happy with a change of heart by Buono on the way his contract was structured, and always had been during Banks’ tenure with the club. For his part, Buono has decided that the club is going to ask more players to play out their options, especially when they are getting on in age.
To me it was unfortunate that Banks’ pretty much gave Buono no choice but to make a move by voicing his displeasure publically and demanding to be released or traded. Things like this are always better when they are kept within the organization, but then again Banks has never been afraid to speak his mind.
As Lowell Ullrich of the TheProvince.com wrote yesterday, there is some questioning by elder players about just where they stand in the grand scheme of things. As expected Banks’ long time teammates in the secondary, Dante Marsh and Ryan Phillips were not happy with the move.
What’s their plans for me? What direction are we going? First thing I thought is who do we have on our roster for us to make this move?” said Ryan Phillips. “I didn’t want to see this happen. I always felt I wanted all of us to go out together.
Dante Marsh was just as miffed, but knows that it’s part of the business that he’s in.
I understand this is a business, but this is a brutal PR move,” said Marsh, “If you’re not going to pay (Banks), who are you going to pay?
It’s understandable for Phillips and Marsh to be upset at the departure of the long-time teammate and friend. But at the same time Buono wasn’t forced to “pay” anyone. Banks was under contract for the 2014 season and even if he felt the club had reneged on an early promise, he was the one that forced the hand of Buono, who has to look at the complete puzzle when trying to turn it into a championship team.
The Lions say they want to go in a different direction at the nickleback position. A spot where they want to get a little bigger and more physical. Obviously Buono wasn’t convinced that Banks was indispensable, especially if he wasn’t going to be a happy camper.
The business is a tough one, but Banks was compensated well by the Lions during his time with them, and he helped the team win two championships. He’ll go down as one of the all-time great Lions.
Eventually Marsh and Phillips will settle in and do their jobs as they always do, even if in the back of their minds they wonder when their day will come.
Because that folks is the business, and no player is exempt. But if this team is hoisting the Grey Cup in November at BC Place, then all will be good again…until the boss makes his next round of decisions for the future.