Requirements of Friendship

By Thomas Kochman - 09.05.2009

The recent article on suspicions surrounding Dominican baseball players of opposing teams, Miguel Tejada and Tony Batista, back in 2001, putting personal friendship above loyalty to their own team  is a recurring theme also implied in the way the news media reported Sammy Sosa’s then record breaking 66th home run. “Batting for the second time in the game against his fellow Dominican and good friend, Jose Lima [italics added] Sosa drove the second pitch an estimated 462 feet, into the fourth level of the left-field stands at the Astrodome.”  The general question behind these suspicions is the extent to which personal friendship and loyalty, or loyalty to ethnic group and country, for Dominicans, and maybe Hispanics and members of other ethnic groups also, take precedence over respect for and adherence to established “rules” and the meaning of personal loyalty and friendship as practiced and understood within mainstream U.S.

The established view in mainstream U.S. culture is that adhering to the “rules of the game” or giving  loyalty to the team or company that hired you takes precedence over ethnic group loyalty, personal friendship, or even self-interest (personal commitment and loyalty to self and family).

In baseball, “free agency” and “no trade clauses” put this last idea to rest. However, it still lingers on in mainstream U.S. corporations where the message sent loud and clear is that if you have any hope of making it to the top level, you need to put commitment and loyalty to the company –for career diplomats or military personnel –to foreign or military service, respectively– over everything else.

Personal loyalty and friendship as practiced within mainstream U.S. culture is especially demanding and viewed often as something that you owe others rather than reciprocally, something that others also owe you. The one sided aspect of this view explains why mainstream people often resist the idea of hiring members of their family or friends based not only upon the belief that they will take advantage of the relationship and expect or demand consideration not available to others but that you, as their friend, are obliged to support or condone that even if that undermines work productivity or otherwise puts you at risk. Read more »