In an earlier blog entry (The Beat, July 28), I wrote that sports is not simply a game. There are many more intangibles then simply the final score, wins and losses and “how you play the game”. I firmly believe that sport has an intense ability to bring people together in ways nothing else can. However, there are many aspects that have come to light that have me screaming... IT’S JUST A GAME PEOPLE!
Regardless of our opinions of Lebron James’ decision to jump ship in Cleveland to play second fiddle to Dwyane Wade in Miami, that was his personal decision and he did what he felt was best. I can give him that, it was his right and he exercised that right. My opinion of Lebron James ends there, me as a basketball fan observing a basketball player. When fans began burning his Cleveland Cavalier #23 jersey that they paid a lot of money for, it screamed at me… IT’S JUST A GAME PEOPLE! Actually my thought was more, GET A LIFE PEOPLE! But still, I can understand the intensity of their displeasure. As a sports fan growing up in Michigan, my worst sports moment came when Barry Sanders decided to retire on the eve of training camp. Any Lions fan will tell you now, “well looks like Barry knew what he was doing,” but at the time, Barry transformed himself from hero to public enemy #1 overnight. However, we got over the pain of our loss because after all, it is just a game.
Now, in the great age of social media that we live in, athletes and public figures face a whole new level of scrutiny. I won’t deny that even my access to the media, as a blogger suddenly gives me a voice that I never otherwise have had. It is a scary world to live in when as a basketball player, Lebron James is now receiving racially charged Twitter messages from enraged fans, including a moronic and cowardly twitter follower’s racist tweets regarding Lebron’s mother being a “ni***er slave” and the different ways he and other various public figures would have sex with or perform sexual acts on her. Really dude? I am only pretty sure I do not have to go into any sort of detail as to why this is horrifically inappropriate.
Here is the message, and listen closely. The sporting life is a great life for those who choose not to abuse it. For the fans who have dedicated themselves, from Little League umpires to season-ticket holders to fantasy football die-hards like myself, sports provides an outlet that we would not find elsewhere. Taking it upon oneself however to degrade another human being because of actions performed on and off the playing surface is ridiculous. Including their family members is cowardice. Like I have said, sports is not just a game for me, and sports is in many ways indicative of real life played out in front of millions in game form. But sports does not and should not allow for moronic characters to engage in degrading and repulsive actions that remove the aspect of fun from the topic. Sports is a way of life for many people, but we need to remember the game, the reason why we are fans.