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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Note to LeBron: It's not your race, it's the quitting that's the problem

As an avid Cleveland area sports fan, and the president of an Akron, Ohio, high school sports media site that covers LeBron James' alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, I was surprised to learn last week that I am a racist. According to LeBron and his super sidekick Maverick Carter, the strong reaction they received to "The Decision" was because of racism.

That kind of riled me up, but not wanting to spew anything equally nonsensical, I decided to sit on it a few days, till I could express my opinion on the topic in a cogent fashion. So here goes:

At no time when I have donated money to MY alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, have I ever stopped to consider the race of a student who might benefit from the financial aid that the school offers to those who wish to attend. When I bought Cleveland Cavalier merchandise, I never weighed whether to buy the jersey of lily white Zydrunas Ilgauskas or one of his darker skinned teammates. And when LeBron James declared his decision, it didn't matter to me what color he is.

What was upsetting to me and to most people in Akron and Cleveland, was that this young man, who espoused the virture of playing at home, would so easily throw away the "home" advantage for an easier path to a championship.

In the most simple terms: He is a quitter. LeBron was in a position to be the highest paid basketball player AND still live and play at home. Who wouldn't want that dream scenario!

Instead, LeBron James chose a shortcut to a ring, quitting on his team, his teammates and his non-quitting fans. For people who have supported Cleveland sports teams through thick and thin, this is the worst possible attribute an athlete could have. They haven't quit on their teams, and they thought LeBron was one of them, that he wouldn't quit either. As Art Modell showed Cleveland fans not that long ago, quitters come in any color, and the reaction to both of them has been equally strong.