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On Basketball and Economic Development

July 10, 2010 Comments off

For those of you who know me personally, you can attest to the fact that my knowledge of professional sports can fill one side of a 3×5 note card. It was never my thing, nor was chess, for that matter. I guess any sport that required excessive thinking from me I tended to shy away from doing or understanding. So, me blogging about basketball is not only very odd, but likely impossible.

To that end, I am not going to talk about basketball, but I will discuss a player of basketball. A player that seems to have alienated an entire state…proclaiming himself “The King” and now taking his court (pun intended) to Miami. This announcement shocked his home team of the Cleveland Cavaliers and his legions of loyal fans who followed him from humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio.

The steady word salad of disgust, hatred and generally loathing toward Mr. James has been quite interesting to watch, read, hear and see. I am not qualified to take a side, I do not know if he played the system, used it to his advantage or whatever. I just do not know that much about it…but…

What I have seen is an interesting parallel here. Mr. James has become the “spiritus mundi” of every factory closing, big business relocation, mass lay off and general hardship that plagues Ohio. Here, a person of humble beginnings, grown and nurtured in our back yard, making it to the big time….leaving…turning his back on his community, walking away from his dumbfounded followers.

Hmm, this tune sounds familiar. The funeral dirge from General Motors, Ford, Youngstown Steel and Tube, National Cash Register, The Lima Locomotive Works, Philips Display Components, AK Steel in Mansfield,  and now we can add a chorus about LeBron James.

All of these entities gave Ohioans hope. As did the hundreds of other business and industries that left our towns and cities, seemingly turning their backs on their neighbors.

Was Mr. James correct in his decision? For him, and his business of basketball, he believes it was the right call. We will simply have to wait and see if this move was the best.

Meanwhile we hear the prognosticators telling us what will happen next and the Cavaliers promising an NBA Championship. Again, parallels to our current economy? I have heard many left and right leaning political pundits making promises and many more offering up opinions on our problems, yet have we seen action that satisfies the masses?

In the end, it still goes back to people and the hurt and disappointment they feel. This is a real hurt, and a real disappointment. Not because of some talented basketball player leaving, but because in the one area they have chosen to find solace (the game of basketball), the ugly reality of our time shows up to steal our hot wings and drink our refreshments.
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