Once upon a time, I had orange and brown items in my closet (before it was trendy) and wore them with strange, but Cleveland-ish, hair accessories. I had Chief Wahoo painted on my face. I cheered on the Force and Crunch soccer teams without knowing a bit about soccer and before it was the sport that everyone plays. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to have the same knee injury as Cleveland basketball star, Mark Price, and share his doctor and his rehab facility at the Cleveland Clinic. (See, even knee surgery can be exciting)
Once upon a time, I actually barked shamelessly while watching Bernie Kosar come from behind with the Cardiac Kids to *gasp* win games.
Currently, I have not the faintest stirring of emotion for the professional teams of my hometown. Not a flutter. I try on occasion to rekindle the flame (for the sake of the sports fans in my life) but I really just end up yawning with authentic boredom. And if I try a little harder, I just find a bad taste in my mouth from the commercially-saturated, morally depraved culture of professional sport.
Lebron. The subject of endless conversation and emotion. And yet, I think the most boring subject of all. A microcosm of what sport has become.
Until now, I haven't been able to put a finger on my total loss of interest. Honestly, I haven't had enough interest to even try. Then Lebron announced his departure...and I read this article from the New York Magazine sports blog. In talking about the Lebron decision and the glaring commercialism and emptiness throughout, the author writes:
"...tonight, it felt like everyone involved...treated the millions of people watching like stupid, mindless consumers, empty lemmings ready to follow Sport into the abyss. Here, here are the Boys and Girls Club props. Here, here is your search engine. Here, here is your online college, Here, here is your Athletic Hero. Eat. Eat. Consume. You like it. You love it. You'll always come back for more.
They're surely right, of course. But never has it been laid more bare, and never did it feel so empty. It felt like a break, the moment when the tide crested, when we looked at the games, and their players, and ourselves, and wondered: Why in the world are we watching these awful people? It was a question impossible to answer.
LeBron James, thanks to this debacle, will never be the same. (That he appears unable to understand why is the precise reason why.) ESPN, it feels, will never quite be the same: There were surely thousands of employees there who rubbed their eyes, aghast at what they were watching, guilty to be a part of it. The NBA, the hunger laid bare and the wound gaping for all to see, may never be the same.
And the fear is that we won't be the same. The fear is that we've truly seen the ugly, dark heart of sports, and we won't be able to come back. It feels extremely stupid to be a sports fan. It feels pointless. None of this felt harmless tonight. And we allowed this to happen. Perhaps this is what we deserve. Perhaps this will be good for us, all of us.
Let us all just hope everybody feels better in the morning. Some morning, someday."
I guess my problem is that I have had too many "Lebron moments" over the years and I stopped trying to feel better in the morning. Maybe the beginning of the end for me was when Art Modell took the Cleveland Browns and secretly marched them to Baltimore, slapped new colors on them and gave them a new name in spite of the unmatched devotion of the Cleveland fans. In fact, I'm pretty sure that was the moment.
Life is too good and full and busy to get caught up in professional sporting inanity. I really enjoy athletics. I just don't enjoy that kind of athletics.