The worlds of professional sports and poetry rarely collide. And when they do, we wonder why in God's name they did. In this case, they did because Miami is waist-deep in LeBron James hagiography.
As background for those of you who don't follow the NBA -- and because you're reading a poetry column there's a good chance that that includes you -- James recently announced his intention to leave Cleveland's professional basketball team to "take his talents" to Miami, breaking Cleveland's heart in the process.
Given the opportunity, professional athletes usually choose to bolt for bigger cities (and bigger media markets), but James is an Ohio native, so Clevelanders held out hope that he would stay. And when they learned that James would be announcing his decision during a one-hour ESPN event entitled simply, "The Decision," well, surely he wouldn't break their hearts on national TV, would he? That would be a profoundly horrible PR move! Well that's just what James did, and in that moment he went from being one of the most well-liked athletes on the planet to one of the most vilified.
Just don't tell that to the people of Miami.
This past week, the Miami Herald and Miami radio station WRLN sponsored a poetry contest to commemorate James' arrival. The winner will receive tickets to a Miami Heat game and will have the chance to read their poem at a Miami poetry festival and on the air.
Mike Moffitt of the SFGate pointed out that, historically, cities "have paid tribute to their heroes after they do something heroic." But Miami won't let that stand in the way of their excitement.
Organizers seem to be taking the contest quite seriously. The rules, at least, are amusingly detailed:
The poem can utilize any poetic form (haiku, rhyming couplets, limerick, free verse, etc.) but it cannot exceed six lines (LeBron's jersey is #6).
That last rule also spares the judges from having to read Lebron James-themed poems longer than six lines.
Not surprisingly, when spurned Clevelanders got wind of the contest, they flooded the web with their own entries. Here are a few from the Cleveland fans (who weren't so kind). From the poignant and straightforward:
Lebron has no ring
Yet he calls himself the king
To the rhythmically challenged:
No one in Cleveland likes you anymore.
They think you're empty at the core.
The city looked to you for rescues,
But you lost all your values,
Now you're filthy rich, but dirt poor.
To my personal favorite (it's mean but it's so funny):
Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I Hope You Sustain a Career Ending Injury
Alas, I am not the judge. The judge is a Miami Herald employee who has already been quoted complaining about words that don't quite rhyme. His decision promises to be at least as successful as LeBron's.