If there is one athlete in my generation that has lived up to the hype — it’s LeBron James.
Yet all over social media I see people bashing James and his accomplishments, just seconds, minutes, and hours after he helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a NBA title, his fourth as a player.
‘He complains to much to the officials.’ ‘He left teams to team up with superstars in bigger markets.’ ‘He is making things too political.’
I never saw Michael Jordan play. I never watched John Elway, Hank Aaron or Wayne Gretzky, but I’ve watched enough sports to recognize elite talent and players like LeBron James are as good as they come.
I feel like too much we worry about the past and we forget to savor the present. There will be a day when the NBA season starts and LeBron isn’t there, and it will be noticeable. Remember in 2016 when the NFL returned and there was no Peyton Manning? It sucked didn’t it?
There are many stances that athletes like James are taking that I don’t agree with. And I’ll agree, sports are becoming politicized, but think back to who was the shortstop on your son’s baseball team or who was hired as your daughter’s new basketball coach. Politics have always played a role in sports, it just may not be as familiar today.
And when it comes to multi-million dollar athletes using their platform to voice their opinion, stop and think about what you did today at work. You talked to a co-worker or customer about two things — the presidential election and COVID-19. The same two things you’ve been talking about every single day for the last six months — and you likely voiced your opinion to them and on social media as well. Just because Patrick Mahomes voice is heard by millions and yours is only heard by a select few, doesn’t mean you have a right to your opinion, but he doesn’t his. Be honest with yourself, if you had money and fame, you would be shouting how you feel too.
It took until I was in college to learn that Muhammad Ali was a draft dodger and civil rights leader by using his platform as a boxer. All I knew growing up was that during his run, he was the most dominate boxer of all time.
I hope that when my kids are growing up they are told that LeBron James was the hardest working and most successful basketball player in the 21st century. And not that he never lived up to the standard set before him because the game of basketball changed or that he voted for the wrong person.
While politics and social stances have forever merged with athletics, it’s important to not lose sight of why we love sports.
It’s the competition, the thrill, and the curiosity in how an athlete can make an impossible task for us look so effortless for them.
It’s not about what they wear, but how they play. That’s what matters. So don’t miss it.
If you’re boycotting professional sports because of politics or social stances, that’s fine. But choose to boycott the league, not the sport itself. There are millions of us in the United States that crave sports as a part of our daily lives — and it’s important to remember that desire is for the love of the game itself.
Whatever your reasoning is for turning in the channel, don’t miss out on greatness. There will be more great basketball players, more great quarterbacks and tennis players. But don’t miss the ones playing right now, because they are some of the best to ever do it.
Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26