Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Last week was moving week, which turns out to be more stressful than I had imagined and a lot more time-consuming. I need a modicum of order in my life, and I’m a lot happier now that I have my office unpacked and set up. Time to turn my mind away from bubble wrap and towards what’s happening in the rest of the world (although for relieving stress popping bubble wrap is a highly effective therapy).
Anyway, adding to the moving stress was LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Miami Heat. I grew up in Cleveland and have been a sports fan for years. The last time the Tribe won the World Series was 1954, so being an Indians fan requires enduring unreasonable optimism. On the other hand, it was easy to be optimistic about my hometown’s basketball chances as long as LeBron was throwing the talc in the air for the Cavs.
Like all Cleveland fans, I’m unhappy and disappointed. Yes, he’s got a right to go wherever he wants, but as sports writer Zach Baker notes, James had to do it by “stringing long-suffering Cleveland fans along for a national TV humiliation.”
Michael Wilbon in The Washington Post agrees that the ESPN spectacle was cheesy, but ponders the question of being a leader on a team or being part of a powerful ensemble. As he puts it, “Should you hook up with your rivals or try to beat their brains out?”
We’ve been teaching kids for the last 10 years or so that it’s all about working together, working as a team. When kids do a project, we grade them both on the product and the process, which comes down to whether the students worked cooperatively as a team member. Except for sports, we in schools often discourage competition in favor of cooperation. Remember the opening of Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”? The year was 2081 and everyone was finally equal.
Wilbon makes a valid, thoughtful point: James would have been “the guy” in Cleveland. Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith says he thought James was “more of a competitor” and was surprised at his choice. Winning with other winners is apparently more important to James than leadership. That’s something for us to think about over the summer.