Cleveland, we have a problem. If you didn’t know, I was born in Akron, Ohio. We moved to greater Cleveland in late 1968. My family grew up in the same house. My parents, two of my brothers and I live here. I love sports, professional and otherwise. Cleveland is big sport town. (More)
We are avid, and enthusiastic sports fans to the point of fanaticism. I hear the question already: JBF this is a political blog what’s up? I am using sports as a metaphor. We have many problems in Cleveland. I understand that one of our problems is a lack of a winning professional sports team lately. The Cleveland Indians won in the 1950’s. The Cleveland Browns won a football championship in 1964.
In 2003, Cleveland (by being such a big loser in the NBA) won the #1 lottery pick. Luckily, there was a young man who played basketball in Akron named LeBron James. He played and continues to play at an exceptional level. He was already in the national spotlight and brought big time sports back to NE Ohio. For 7 years, LeBron James, the Cavs and Cleveland basked in the glow of that national spotlight. People were happy. People forgot about the other losing Cleveland sports teams. People went downtown. People spent money. Sports news talk radio, print news, TV, and internet talked about Cleveland. Cleveland was relevant. People were distracted from their problems.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers were entertaining. They won. They won a lot. The made it to the NBA finals on one occasion. They made a great effort, but alas they did not deliver a championship. Mr. James stayed for 7 years. He is a hometown guy but people acted like we owned him.
Then there was “the decision.” I thought it was poor form but in the days of 24/7 news and the internet, whatever. We add his decision to the long laundry list of grievances that has given us a massive inferiority complex. This caused a terrible furor both here and nationally. I was upset for a day, then thought “Good luck and best wishes young man.” People were really mad then and are still really mad now. The level of vitriol was and is concerning to me. I listened and kept my mouth shut. Not any more at least with a keyboard. IMHO, some of this may be racially based; some of this may be class based, and some of this may be generational. Unfortunately, many Clevelanders projected their hopes and dreams onto him.
Since we have so many problems, we needed a bad guy. LJ served himself up nicely to be the new bad guy of Cleveland and even nationally although I don’t get why non-Clevelanders got upset. We have some many problems to be mad about. We had a failure of some of our elected officials in county government. Some of our elected representatives were corrupt. This then was packaged up and sold as a “bill of goods” to change the form of county government by the local newspaper on behalf of big business interests. It was created in secret, but that was okay. People voted to change county government in an off-off year election. I smell a scam but can’t figure it out yet.
We have high under and unemployment. We have increasing crime. We have increasing drug and alcohol abuse. We have a continuing foreclosure crisis (NEO is the epicenter). We are older, poorer, fewer, and angrier. We are losing at least one congressional seat. So many people have failed us. We don’t know who to blame.
So why not blame a young man who gets paid a lot of money and is perhaps arrogant for leaving us in the lurch? I was going to discuss that he is a working stiff like the rest of us with a better opportunity, but that sounds disingenuous.
Cleveland and the Cavs were back in the national spotlight. Cleveland and some of my fellow Clevelanders didn’t acquit themselves well. People are still mighty angry. People are welcome to their thoughts, feelings and even words. Now, instead of being the “lovable losers,” we are just losers. I don’t like being called a loser because of my fellow Clevelanders. In a recent Miami-Cleveland game, LJ scored 38 points with 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Fans in Cleveland booed him, but at least nothing really bad happened. The Cavs did not play well. LeBron James still owns the Cavs. Miami won, 118-90. LJ goes back to warm, sunny Miami. We are left in the bitter snowy cold of Cleveland. Some of my friends continue to be cold and bitter.
LeBron James makes a good bad guy. LJ and his departure, the Cavs, the Browns, the Indians, Cleveland sports in general are not our problem. We are. It is just easier to act like it is someone else’s fault. Cleveland, please think about directing this energy towards something more productive. We need businesses that create jobs. When times are better we will feel better, and Cleveland sports will be less important.
Cleveland, we have a problem, but it is not LeBron James.
The BPI Campus Progressive agenda:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.