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While LeBron James was telling us — excuse me, blessing us — with his decision of where to play next year, a team of 10- and 11-year-old baseball players reminded us of what we love about sports.
James, the latest example of a me-first superstar we have in sports today, decided it was necessary to take an hour of our lives so he could announce where he would suit up next year.
Could a 10-minute news conference have sufficed? Sure, but what’s the fun in that? Where’s the glamour? After all, this was “King James” we’re talking about. Only a royal announcement would be appropriate.
Nearly 800 miles away from Greenwich, Conn., where James held his idiotic announcement, kids in a different sport, at a different age and a different level, could have taught James a lot about what makes sports so great.
For James, the opportunity to sell his “brand” is one of, if not the most important items to check off his to-do list.
For the 11-and-under all-star baseball team of Anderson County, it’s working together in hopes of winning a championship, and having fun in the process.
For James, holding on to hometown loyalty and pride is as good as second and third place finishes – and he has plenty of those. A simple courtesy call to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert before announcing on television where he was going to play would have been a nice touch to soften the blow of deserting the Cavaliers. Instead, he informed them the same way he informed us — on ESPN.
For the boys of Anderson County, home is where the heart is. With more and more people showing up to the ball park with each victory, the kids from Anderson County played their hearts out, never gave up and never got down. Maybe Anderson County manager Tommy Rice should meet up with James and let him know what it should mean to play for your hometown.
“I’m just proud for these boys to be in Anderson County, their hometown, and they’re going to have half the county here. It’s going to be something they’ll remember their whole life,” said Rice following Anderson’s 12-9 semifinal win earning them a berth to the district championship game. “… The community is coming out and supporting us, and we’re playing for them. We’re playing for Anderson County.”
Who’s James playing for? My guess would be himself. If that’s incorrect you can’t fault me for coming to that conclusion.
After losing in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals he stormed off the court without shaking a single hand, including Dwight Howard’s. It wasn’t even a year earlier James had stood on a podium with Howard accepting an Olympic gold medal. James would later send Howard an e-mail congratulating him. Touching, I know.
After each little league game, instead of exchanging e-mail addresses for future “good game” remarks, the players line up and shake hands with the opposing team. A sign of sportsmanship The Chosen One could learn from.
In Anderson County, a community can rest assured they have a team they can root on and be proud of, win or lose. As they advance to the state tournament Saturday with their first district championship already in hand, their goal is simple: to win it all.
It’s the way this group of kids goes about winning and playing that makes you wish James and others could go back in time and be reminded what sports are truly about.
While James is so focused on selling his own brand, and doing so in ways that would make sportsmanship blush if it had a face, the Anderson County all-stars are playing for the county imprinted on the left side of their chest and the front of their caps.
After hitting a home run and striking out two batters to close out Anderson’s 12-9 win over Richmond National on July 8, Josh Lindsey said, “It feels great to come out and support the team.”
After hitting what wound up being the game winning, inside-the-park home run in the same game, Zach Rice said, “It made me feel like a winner and a hero for the team.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Dalton Lewis talked about trust.
“We feel relaxed because we’re trusting everyone,” he said.
Daniel Whalen, Anderson County’s second baseman, liked their chances of winning the district championship for one simple reason.
“We come out here and we work as a team,” Whalen said. “And we play good if we work as a team.”
These kids are honored to play together for their hometown.
James believes we should be honored to watch him for an hour say something that took a mere eight seconds.
Thursday, July 8, as James sat in a chair talking about himself, his opportunities and his feelings, the Anderson County all-stars played for each other and their community.
James will be happy to rake in $110.1 million over the next six years. The kids from Anderson County will be happy to run another victory lap around the field together.
It should come as no surprise that James spoke that Thursday night with his hands empty of any championships, and two days later the boys from Anderson County earned their hometown its first.
E-mail Metz Camfield at email@example.com.