If you're a good athlete, is it better to stick with the same team your whole career, or play for multiple teams?

Say you’re an athlete who is good enough to be a starter on any team - one of the top 20 players in the league, on par with LeBron, Gretzky or Messi.

ISTM you’re better off playing for, say, 3 teams in your career rather than just one. You get a new “honeymoon” phase each time, you sell more merchandise this way (if you were to stick with the same team your whole career, not many more people would buy your jersey because pretty soon those who want one have one and the market’s saturated,) fans have less time to get tired of you (even the best players can soon find that their home fanbase becomes ungrateful or accustomed to success), etc.

You probably wouldn’t want to play for more than 3 teams - too many. But the same team your whole career doesn’t seem to make much sense unless you really like the niche you are in, you like your team that much, or your home base city, and don’t want to leave. Thoughts?

There are likely pros and cons of both, but I seem to recall a study that showed that, at least for MLB, staying with one team increases your odds of making the Hall of Fame.

Here it is, from Bill James: https://www.billjamesonline.com/vagabonds_and_homebodies/

The upshot is that if you take two players with similar HoF credentials, jumping from team to team reduces the odds they actually make the hall by 50%.

So at least by that metric (making the HoF) it’s better to stay with one team.

Well I’m from Detroit and I noticed a marked improvement for Justin Verlander and Matt Stafford when they left recently. They both got championship rings on their fingers that they never would have gotten by staying, just saying. Sorry to say but Barry Sanders should have done the same.

I think sticking with a team is the best approach. A lot of players don’t start with a bang on new teams and sometimes don’t like the new environment at all. The team you stick with appreciates will have confidence that you’ll climb out of a slump, a new team will be thinking they wasted their money.

The best decision comes by evaluating the circumstances player by player and team by team.

Define better. If you’re measuring better in terms of total dollars earned then you are most likely to get that by going out on the free agent market and starting a bidding war for a long term contract. Most players can only do that twice at most.

There are a lot of variables.
I think baseball versus (hockey, basketball, soccer) may be different. The direct interactions of the mass of players at one time being quite different. Maybe football is also a bit different from those three.
A player in those three may need to find a team where they are more in tune with the mass of players. Where your moves and personal strategy are in tune with more of your team mates. The mass of players can seem to know who is going to be where without even looking.
I am not much of a sport fan though. So take the comment lightly.

I think the HOF consideration is important, if I think I’m THAT good of a player. But I would also want to leverage my talents to play for a winner, should my original team not be competitive.

It probably depends on what your goals are. If your goal is to make the absolute most money you can, you can probably do that by regularly renegotiating your contracts by switching teams. Of course, this requires you to be on your game and be as good or better than you used to be, season after season.

But if your goal is to make a name for yourself/generate a historical legacy, or maybe to set yourself up after sports, then staying with one team at least for the second half of your career is definitely the way to go. You’ll be associated with a particular city and team, and you’ll likely build contacts that can help you in your post-sports endeavors.

I think it depends on the team.

If you are drafted by the Detroit Lions you probably want to play for at least 2 teams. :smiley:

I’d say for hockey, it also depends on the market. A hockey player for one of the Canadian teams is going to live in a media fishbowl and every kid on the street knows who you are.

Play for the Florida Panthers and you’ll be basically unnoticed, you can go out for dinner or see a film and be just like some office desk jockey.