Wednesday, June 15, 2011

LeBron Learns Life Lessons


Last year at Sporting Chance Press , we wrote about the LeBron James charitable giving and his team selection TV extravaganza "reveal" --we made the case that James had done nothing immoral and there was a great upside for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America by the huge sum of money raised for them.

Much has been written on the NBA Championship Series and LeBron's play--lots of it negative. In sports, there are many detractors and LeBron is going to have those regardless of how he plays. If you are in the limelight, you will get the requisite scrutiny and often the criticism that follows will be unfair. Many in today's media of course, don't stop at criticizing play, they often make it personal--that's what sells in our hot-wired world. Some believe you have to be ten times nastier than the guy on the next channel or in the other local paper to get an audience. For LeBron, they will talk about choking and his character, although some commentators have tried to point out that unlike many sports celebrities, James seems to get demonized without scandalous behavior,which should be precursor to such media roasts.

As the publisher at Sporting Chance Press, I try to look beyond the hype and see the hero within--in both athletes and all of us athlete wannabees--that's what my company is all about. Our books bring out the best in people, not the worst.

One of my authors is Patrick McCaskey and his dad told him when his sports career was sidetracked by serious injury, "the steel of manhood is tempered by the fire of adversary>" (Sports and Faith). Also in Patrick's book, Sports and Faith, his grandfather George Halas is quoted giving McCaskey some advice when he came under criticism by schoolmates -- "this is a test, if you run from this, you'll run from something really difficult later in life..."

How many times have we heard great sports figures say that you learn from defeats not victories. I believe that's true. A good sports contest is often compared to great theater. In a good play, tragedy is characterized by loss, but punctuated by growth and wisdom. The same is true in championship series like the Dallas-Miami one just completed.

There was enough negative energy around LeBron this year to give Lord Voldemort nine more lives. A positive result of the season is that LeBron is now officially human and I believe he should also be officially likable in the media because I think he is a very likable guy. Now I hope sports fans look beyond the hype and I hope a lot more people cheer for him--at least when he's not playing the Bulls.

LeBron James most recent message is a very positive one that most of us can relate to in our lives at any time: [I've got] "a lot to learn from this year, a lot to build on, and a lot of work to do...'' Sounds like a winning formula to me. Sounds like what we must do everyday, pick up the pieces, the mistakes, and get on with it. In sports there are great lessons for all of us.