Deciphering Culture

LeBron pulls the plug on Cleveland

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from Live Journal

Some may argue that writing about LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to  play for the Miami Heat is stretching the theme of this blog. His decision will significantly impact the community but do sports belong in the same category as art? An argument could alway be made either way but, since at least World War II, sports stars have been entertainers (and with Vince McMahon’s brilliant creation of sports entertainment the blurry line between sports and entertainment has become almost invisible). And to belabor the point, Charles Barkley rightly stated that he shouldn’t be held up as a role model to other people’s children but he never maintained that he wasn’t an entertainer — Sir Charles knew better. But back to LeBron and Cleveland. Much has been written over the years of the negative impact of cities’ frantic efforts to attract sports franchises and the debts incurred, but this is the first occasion I remember of calculations of the detrimental effect of one athlete moving on. MSNBC estimates that the city will lose $100 million per year (Cleveland’s financial reasons for loving LeBron. Worries downtown renaissance might ebb is Cav’s star free agent leaves). However, the loss goes far beyond economic concerns and, according to Please Don’t Leave 23 (a site dedicated to a campaign to keep No. 23 in Ohio) far beyond the realm of sports:

LeBron James’ impact on Ohio goes far beyond basketball. LeBron will have the option of leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers at the end of the 2009-2010 NBA season. This campaign is dedicated to keeping LeBron James in Cleveland for the betterment of all Ohioans. We believe, if we show LeBron James that his greatest supporters are right here in Ohio, that it will have a significant impact on his decision. Now let’s get to work!!!

Unfortunately they failed but we all saw that coming, didn’t we.

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Written by Jeffrey Callen

July 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm

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