Friday, July 9, 2010

Lebron: the False God Who Disappoints

Will Leitch has written a painfully revealing column in New York Magazine about the psychosis surrounding the Lebron James fiasco. Now, I hate sports. It's unimportant, it strikes me as idol worship, it's boring, it's menial and small, it's unbearable... I could go on and on, as long as I can think of negative adjectives.

Leitch's article is called "Never Has Being a Sports Fan Felt So Stupid", and in the column he transparently discusses the hopes of the audience who obsesses over sports.

Apparently, Lebron had a one-hour special all around making an announcement that takes roughly 15 seconds to make. In the length of this hour he advertised online education and other tacky products. Apparently for Will Leitch, this is where he draws the line. Leitch is upset because Lebron shattered the illusion that sports fans everywhere hope for.
Loving sports, by definition, requires a certain suspension of disbelief and logic. We are all pouring our hearts and souls into cheering for men (and women) who do not care about us, who are not like us, who are not the type of people we would ever associate with (or even meet) in real life. We deify them because it is hard to find people to deify in the real world: Sports spans every age group, ethnic group, political persuasion, and all else that serves to divide us, separate us. We cheer for athletes because sports does not matter, not really. We cheer because sports is, ultimately, harmless.

And we trust that they will at least pretend. We trust that they will recognize the ultimate ludicrousness of this whole enterprise, that these are grown men wearing tank tops, throwing a ball up and around, running on wood, that this all exists because we allow it to exist, that the illusion must be maintained. We trust that they understand how good they have it, how much we give them, against our own self-interest. We trust that they are not laughing at us.

That trust felt broken tonight.

So the audience deifies the man, as Leitch admits and then how does the deity treat them? With disdain. So let me get this straight - you deify someone out of necessity (who else are they going to deify? A window washer?) and then when he doesn't do things on your terms, you spit in his face. Now listen; Lebron only did what he did because he was enabled by his audience to do it. If you draw your water from bitter cisterns, don't be susprised when it tastes rotten. If you've picked Lebron or any other man for your deity, my message is: prepare to be used.

In some respects, I'm reminded of Elijah's run-in with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. The priests are so sure that their god will show up to do battle with the Hebrew God, but when the time comes, he won't respond to their calls and function as they were hoping he would. They jump around, the cut themselves, they go into a frenzy, and yet they can't get their man-made god to be their hero when they need him. So it is with Lebron. They made this god, and then he shows up, pees in their cheerios, and they're furious and spitting mad.

Perhaps the solution is that they stop worshipping the creation and start following the Creator. But then again, humanity isn't known for making hard choices like that; they'd rather have an uncaring deity who insultingly uses them than no deity at all.

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