Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Decision

On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.
Haggai 2:23

LeBron James has a tattoo on his back that says, “Chosen 1.”

And LeBron has chosen Miami.

We are on vacation and away from the TV, but he apparently announced his choice in a television special on ESPN called, “The Decision.” No one can accuse LeBron of lacking a sense of his own importance.

“I wanted to do what was best, you know, for LeBron James, what LeBron James was going to do to make him happy,” he explained. One might think that getting paid a bazillion dollars to play basketball and being widely acclaimed as a superstar would be enough to make anyone “happy,” but apparently not.

When Victor Martinez learned that he was traded from the struggling Cleveland Indians to the Boston Red Sox, and would be on a team contending for the World Series, the reports are that he cried. He did not want to leave his team mates. Cleveland had been his home and his team mates had been like family. King James had no such sentiments.

Sadly, at the professional level, sports is a business. The Cavaliers wanted to keep LeBron James because he is a spectacular athlete, not because they felt some deep loyalty to him as a person. I don’t begrudge LeBron the chance to win a championship. But there is something fundamentally wrong in all of this.

Bad enough that athletes are paid annual salaries at rates that could support third world countries; we give them a status that transcends sports.

Charles Barkley (and, for all his well publicized faults, I love Sir Charles) once famously declared that athletes are not role models. Moms and dads are role models, he said, athletes are just athletes. He was only part right. Athletes are highly visible public figures, and to a certain extent that necessarily makes them examples for the children (and adults) who watch them, and they need to accept that responsibility. But we have given them a status beyond athletics. That is our fault and not theirs. Except, that there are instances like the LeBron James “Decision,” where the athletes actively claim that exalted status.

No comments:

Post a Comment