When Andrew Luck ran off the field for the final time last weekend, when it became clear that the 29 year old would retire instead of piloting the most talented roster he’d ever played with (including – yes! – an offensive line), Indianapolis Colts fans started to boo. The jeers weren’t surprising. By any calculation, Luck was leaving the franchise reeling. Here they were expecting a normal date night, and Luck hit them with the old, “It’s not you, it’s me. I think it’s best if we go our separate ways.” Then he got up and left the Colts to pay the check. Of course the fans were hurt. They didn’t see it coming.

What was surprising was the rest of the world’s reaction to the boos. Immediately, folks took to Twitter to deride the booing fans as tasteless, ungrateful, and foolish. Save for a few blowhards on sports talk radio, every column, tweet, and TV segment offered Luck nothing but praise. The New Yorker vaunted him as brave. Sports Illustrated toasted to his future happiness. Those booing fans were painted as brutes, and everyone else was made out as having more sense. It was a new type of reaction to shocking sports news.

Certainly, chastising a player who’s decided he no longer wants to suffer through the grind of injury rehab is immature. But it’s also the most primal reaction a sports fan has: You root for your team, and anybody who hurts that team is the enemy. That kind of tribal, unapologetic sports fandom is becoming more and more rare every day. Instead, we can watch any team anywhere, keep tabs on everything going on in an athlete’s life through their social media accounts, and will a more personalized team to victory instead—our fantasy squads. Those boos weren’t just the final moments of the Colts’ relationship with Andrew Luck; we’ll look back at them as the last gasps of a way of following sports.

Consider the way your father watched sports. I’d venture to guess that his favorite teams were all from the city he grew up in or at the very least, he rooted for whichever team’s games he could watch on TV (this is why the Cubs, thanks to WGN, and the Braves, thanks to TBS, have so many fans across the country). And I would assure you that through whatever trades, whatever the state of the team, he rooted for the same team his entire life. And then he passed that love onto you.

Compare that to people growing up today. The most popular answer to, “What’s your favorite NBA team?” isn’t “the Warriors” or “the Knicks.” It’s “I’m a LeBron fan.” Watch an NFL game with a group, and notice how most people aren’t cheering for one team or the other; they’re pulling for certain players to get the ball. Then consider why the MLB has slipped further from the mainstream. With almost no marketable stars, what are we supposed to cheer?

It’s not that one approach is necessarily better than the other, but it’s just fascinating to reflect on how drastically we have shifted away from our traditional way of viewing sports. Players, as this summer in the NBA made clear, are now the ones with power, as opposed to teams. Go to a youth football game and watch kids warming up. They’ll all try to catch it with one hand, and they’ll probably yell “Odell!” while doing it. And those very kids, the following Sunday, will pull out a freshly printed Browns jersey from their dresser; they have no idea how long Cleveland fans have suffered, nor do they care. Careers used to be about the role a player had in bringing glory to a city (LeBron and, again, Cleveland). Now, they’re viewed more in terms of standalone narrative arcs—each year another season of a long running TV show. It’s why everyone from Steph Curry to Drew Brees has invested in production companies to sell their stories to mass audiences.

Just a few years ago, burning a players jersey was commonplace. It would never happen today.

The trend from traditional brands to individuals is one that’s been repeated in many industries in our influencer culture. It’s seen in fashion, where LVMH’s newest line isn’t centered around the trademark name “Louis Vuitton,” but sealed with Rihanna’s stamp of approval instead. It’s seen in healthcare, where Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop is valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. And it’s seen in politics, where the Republican party no longer stands for anything other than this president*. The idea of following individuals isn’t new. But it’s never been as popular as it is today.

The change begs a lot of questions: If we’re more invested in players than teams, what happens when they retire? Or when they get hurt? How do you continue to grow a game, to hook fans for life? Season tickets are already on the decline, and anybody who has watched the Yankees-Red Sox games this year would agree that the edge has been taken out of rivalries. Are we moving towards a world where rivalries like Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady are more heated than Bears-Packers? The MLB just floated the possibility that the Rays would play home games in both Tampa and Montreal. Are vagabond teams like that more common when city pride isn’t on the line?

There’s no way to answer those questions yet or to even say whether this change will be a good one or not. Of course we shouldn’t be booing players as they run off the field. That type of tribalism won’t be missed. But if the alternative is sanctifying athletes, is that really any better?