Silas Redd Transfer: Why Penn State Fans Shouldn't Be Upset with His Choice

Brandon K. SmithContributor IIIAugust 1, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 29:  Silas Redd #25 of the Penn State Nittany Lions carries the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the game on October 29, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Silas Redd’s decision to transfer from Penn State to USC will surely be met with a great deal of criticism from some in Happy Valley.  The cries of his alleged lack of loyalty will no doubt echo from the hills surrounding State College and will likely be loud enough for all to hear.

But they shouldn’t.

What Penn Staters upset by Redd’s decision need to remember is that he doesn’t owe the school or fans anything.  So frequently in sports, fan bases react to athletes' choices as if they were personally spit in the face by said player.  But why?

The athlete/fan relationship is devastatingly one sided.  Yes, a great deal of money can and has been made by players in many arenas of sport.  The credit for such lavish salaries has to be dealt mainly to the fans who watch the games, buy merchandise and increase overall popularity (which obviously leads to higher revenues).

But fans' expectations of athletes have gotten out of hand.  It’s simply a take, take, take practice.  We expect our athletes to be great people outside the field of play.  We expect them to never make mistakes.  We expect them to do anything and everything we imagine we would do in their position.

Well guess what: the key word in that last sentence is “imagine.” 

It’s easy to sit back and say, “Oh well I’d do this, that and the other if I was in that situation.”  But if you’re not in the situation, then you’re literally not in the situation.  Talk is cheap and one’s thinking totally alters when actually faced with certain issues.

That doesn’t even take into account that these athletes have their own personal lives and don’t necessarily have the luxury of worrying about whether a fan particularly likes what they are doing or not.  There’s also the reality that once a player has a bad game, a personal slip-up, anything, those same fans that may have adored them will turn on them without much of a second thought. Sports fans operate almost entirely on the “what have you done for me lately” logical standpoint.

Selfish would be the best way to describe sports junkies in today’s world.  Ray Allen leaves the Boston Celtics because of the prospect of a better situation for him personally, and seemingly all of Massachusetts acts like he urinated on a Larry Bird statue as he left.  Why?  Is he not allowed to do what’s best for him?  Wouldn’t you do the same for yourself in a similar scenario?

You wouldn’t get vehemently pissed off if a coworker you were friends with had an opportunity to further their career by switching jobs and did so.  Excuse players for looking out for themselves, because once the stadium lights go out and their short careers are over, the fans won’t care.  Athletes know this. 

The idea of loyalty in sports is nothing more than a myth.  It doesn’t exist.  Loyalty is a two-sided affair, and how can we expect players to be loyal when fans will waste no time abandoning them the second their game goes to hell?  If anything, athletes are more “loyal” than the fans more often than not. 

Because fans get so entrenched in sports emotionally, it’s difficult to see things from a player’s perspective.  To us, it’s a game.  It’s something we’re passionate about and we care deeply for, probably too much. 

For most of the athletes, it’s more like work.  It’s a job, it’s their life.  That’s either what they do for a living or what they want to do for a living.  For Redd, given his talent and the fact that he likely desires to play professionally, transferring to USC is almost like him getting a better internship. 

So if Redd thinks transferring to USC is the best move for him, I think Penn State should thank him for the impressive play he gave them for two seasons and wish him the best of luck. 

People that feel like he’s betraying the Penn State community are totally whacked.  What does he owe them?  He’s not even getting paid since he’s an amateur.  All he receives is a free education, but would anybody so much as grumble if a student with a full-ride for academics transferred from PSU to Harvard because it’s in their best interest?  Probably not.

Redd’s time at Penn State came during an incredibly tumultuous period that he could never have forseen.  I’m sure he’d love for everything to be the way it was just less than a year ago.  I’m sure he’d love to have graduated from Penn State and play his whole career there.

But the situation changed, and with that change came opportunities for him he feels will better his future.  So he took action on those opportunities and transferred to USC.

And can you really blame him?  At USC he will be immediately involved in the hunt for a national championship and get to play alongside one of college football’s best quarterbacks in Matt Barkley.  Not to mention USC is better at sending players to the NFL, particularly running backs, than Penn State.  That’s just the reality of the situation.

Obviously, Penn State followers may not like Redd transferring because it likely means less wins for their football team.  If Redd was a fourth-string back up, no one would care if he transferred or have any sort of ill-will towards him.  So essentially, people that are upset at Redd for leaving are just proving the idea that sports fans only act in their best interest as it pertains to their own team.

Last spring, I worked at a sandwich/convenience store that many football and basketball players frequented on the Penn State campus.  What no one mentions is that Silas Redd has been one of the most polite and courteous members of the team and comes off as being a genuinely good person. 

All people care about is wins and losses.  To most, sports figures are only what they see on TV and at games.  They don’t consider that they have lives off the field that they take just as seriously as we do our own. That’s just flat out not fair to the athletes and belittles them as people.

Silas Redd did what he felt was best for him and asking him to do anything else is nonsensical. 

Asking him to do something else for fans (that only care about him as a football player and nothing more) that only want him to stay so Penn State wins a football game here or there makes even less sense.    

Hopefully, before Penn State fans bash Redd for his decision, they think about all of this.  Hopefully, they keep in mind that Redd is just a 20-year-old trying to do what’s best for him. Just because he’s an athlete doesn’t mean he’s entitled to anything less.  Hopefully they remember Evan Royster, Tony Hunt and Larry Johnson, because the memories of Silas Redd would someday be just as fleeting as the ones for those former players had he chosen to stay.