I’m not a basketball fan, but I listen to a fair amount sports talk radio on my way to and from the job, and for the past few weeks it’s been pretty much all LeBron James all the time. For those who don’t know (or care), James left Cleveland after seven years to play with two other stars in Miami because he wanted to win a championship and didn’t think it was going to happen if he stayed where he was. Nothing unusual here. Happens pretty much every day in professional sports. But you’d think, considering the amount of bile spewing in his direction, that he was John Wayne Gacy or something.
Here’s a perfect example, from the comments section of this article:
Besides the insider trading that had to conspire between LeBron, Bosh and Wade while they were in China which set a horrible precidence where NBA players can now decide where they can all team up together I hate LeBron because he kept his home town in suspence and screwed them by not letting them know the whole year that he was leaving. They could have planned for it. I was 100% sure he was staying just because he didn’t say otherwise, I thought, what kind of scum would not tell his team mates and fans he was leaving until the last second. No matter who was playingMiamiI would have rooted for them. Kidd and Vick had nothing to do with the integrity of the game, they made bad decisions in life that was destructive to them and their family, not the game, that’s what fans (of the game) care about.— BentLogic
“Bent logic” about sums it up. This pretty much encapsulates everything that’s hilarious and pathetic about hardcore sports fans, among whom it’s a badge of honor to care passionately about things they have no control over and which have no bearing whatsoever on their lives. The popular explanation for the hatred seems to be that it has something to do with envy or racism, or some combination of the two. No doubt there’s some of both involved, but the reason most of the haters give, when pressed (as in the quote above), is that it’s because he left “hometown” Cleveland for glamorous Miami—as if Cleveland’s the high school sweetheart he left standing at the altar while he ran off with a Hollywood starlet. (If pressed further, many, again like the guy above, will hedge—essentially admitting their irrationality—and say “it’s the way he left,” but the common theme is always the leaving.)
Of all the silly ideas sports fans cling to, this may be the most ridiculous—the notion that athletes who play for a professional sports team owe some kind of allegiance to that team, or “the city” or “the fans.” The last is the best: “We made you what you are by buying tickets and slavishly devoting all of our free time to watching you play a game; you owe us a championship, dammit!” This mindset falls solidly in the realm of childish delusion. Not to mention that if your life is so hollow and devoid of meaning that your emotional well-being hinges on the success or failure of the local sports franchise, you may need to reevaluate a few things.