Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LeBron James vs the World Cup

Inspired by a tweet I saw today about our recent obsession with sports, it just clicked with me. As a nation, we have been more obsessed with sports lately than I can remember at any time in my life. Sure, there have been moments that were huge -- like the Twins winning the World Series in 1987 and again in 1991 - but those were only regionally important because the various teams are, for the most part, only regionally important.

Then came the World Cup. Suddenly soccer (or "football" as the rest of the world calls it) was huge in America. Chalk it up to the Vuvuzelas which produced a noise so hideous people could barely stand to watch the matches on TV but were so captivated that they tuned in in record numbers anyhow. Sure, the U.S. team didn't advance but people still watched -- all the way to the end to see Spain beat the Netherlands. But why? It didn't effect us. A soccer match played half way around the world was watched by over 24 million people in America. That's more people than watched the series finale of "Lost". Was it that many has invested dozens of hours of time watching earlier rounds of play and wanted to see the final match played? Or was it something more?

Could the recent obsession with World Cup soccer be a turning point in the game's popularity in America? It's already popular but could this take it to the level of Football and Baseball?

Then there's the whole LeBron James saga. This is an example of everything that's wrong with sports. People obsessed over where "King James" would play basketball next season. Would he stay in Cleveland? Would he head to the glitz and glamour in New York? Would the Minnesota Timberwolves pull out a longshot and land him and finally build a decent team? Personally I didn't care but avoiding the manufactured hype surrounding his impending decision was almost impossible. The specualtion was rampant on Twitter, blogs, ESPN (which should be ashamed for creating a circus about the decision of a grown man playing a kid's game in Miami) legitimate news sources and sports talk radio. All told, it was just short of infuriating.

But something like 7 million people sat, glued to the TVs on a warm Thursday night in the middle of summer, to watch the spectacle of an overly self-important man-child pondering his future. A man-child being paid more money than the gross domestic product of many small countries to dribble a leather ball and shoot ti through a metal hoop. When it's broken down like that, it seems even more ridiculous to me.

Maybe I'm overly cynical but after the NBA's latest round of manufactured hype and fake drama, I'd much rather watch a hundred hours of slow-moving soccer than be subjected to watching an NBA game ever again.

With this rant concluded, check out the killer photos of Minnesota at MinnPics!

No comments: