Today, LeBron James attempted to rally the Miami Heat fan base and his teammates by tweeting, "...I have no friends when at WAR besides my soldiers," and in so doing continued a pattern of complete ignorance by professional athletes. James is a great basketball player, one of the best ever, and what he says and does is put under a microscope by a media that devours high profile follies.
We are an overly critical culture with a seemingly terminal inability to lighten up a bit. Sometimes, you have to remember and tell yourself, "Hey, the guy's just twenty-six and has lived in a spotlight since he was 12," and question how mature you were at a similar age.
I'm sympathetic to LeBron on that score. But, come on, you get paid hundreds of millions to dunk a basketball, not patrol IED laced roads in Helmand Province, Afghanistan for what, comparatively speaking, pays nothing and could cost you your life.
In a time of war, too many professional athletes -- too many people for that matter -- have made reference to the next big game as something more than just that, a game. I'm all for rivalries and intense competition but last time I checked there wasn't much chance a pro athlete or fan could come out on the other end, horribly disfigured or dead. It's a small thing. It might even be called nitpicking to harp on such a minuscule fact.
But LeBron and his NBA teammates aren't "soldiers". The seventh game of the World Series isn't an epic "battle" and NFL players have never gone out on Sunday and played in a "war." Yet these seemingly innocent colloquiums are used everyday and perhaps they shouldn't be, especially when there are men and women approximately the same age as the players a world away fighting and dying in actual battles and a real war.
Derrick Brooks, future Hall of Fame linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, very eloquently pointed out that same fact on ESPN's 1st and 10 by saying, "The game that I play is football, and is no comparison to what they do in laying their lives on the line for us." Brooks, like some athletes, make an effort to refrain "from using the war reference." But others, like LeBron James, may have somehow missed, ignored or forgotten the two wars American soldiers have been fighting over the past decade.
I didn't hear many athletes tweeting that they wanted to destroy an opponent like Hurricane Katrina or how their record was more of a disaster than the Haitian earthquake especially not publicly and certainly not in a format where you sit down, write it, send it and then have the option of deleting it. So, for someone as high profile as LeBron James to compare basketball with war is just plain dumb. You get in your Ferrari (not Humvee), drive to a game (not a patrol), shoot basketballs (not guns) for sixty minutes a night (not a full tour of duty). I'm not a "hater", LeBron but let's drop the line that you are a soldier because you're not and maybe they're afraid to tell you the truth since you took your talent to Miami, but you don't go to war. Remember?