I’ve heard a lot of talk and speculation lately on why people are not going to Indians games and I have the answer. I blame LeBron.
A year ago I was nervous and excited about watching “The Decision.” A year ago our sports lives were all changed very dramatically. But that decision taught me more about ME as a fan, than it did about LeBron.
LeBron James, his on-court shrinkage, his not finishing games, his leadership problems – those are his problems. They are not mine, and they are not yours. Not anymore. We need to look at OUR behavior as fans over the past year, and it’s not pretty. We’ve been the butt of jokes; we’ve been portrayed as bitter, angry, uneducated and unsportsmanlike. And that is what bothers me. “Unsportsmanlike.”
I have never rooted against a player like this before. I never wished harm on Terry Bradshaw or Franco Harris – unless it was at the hands of Sam Rutigliano’s boys , Thom Darden, and Dick Ambrose. I didn’t celebrate when Big Papi struck out – unless it was against Cliff Lee. I never wished them the kind of pain I wished on LeBron. I have never been “Unsportsmanlike.” Until now.
Before the decision, being a fan was about having a TEAM. Yes we rooted for individual players but we always knew in some part of our logical mind that they were just playing on a team that we were competing against. It wasn’t personal like that. It was city vs city. But WE took the decision personally. And I don’t like the kind of fan that I became this year.
People are still telling us to get over it, and most of us say we have, or that the media won’t let us. I disagree. In order to truly get over it, we have to “own” our part in what happened. WE let a single person become bigger than a team. WE let a single person bear the weight of all the hopes & dreams of an entire city, no, of a country with Cleveland Sports Fans transplanted all over, and we felt cheated when he left without bringing us that ring.
Well, we need to know that it wasn’t our fault as fans that he left; which brings me right back to the Tribe. I truly do believe that there are fans staying away from the Indians games because of LeBron. Our hearts were broken last year and many of us are afraid to connect to another team, another player, that way again.
So we watch from home, cheer when they win, and say “I told you so” when they lose. We complain about the players, the price of parking & beer, and the traffic. And through all that, the Indians are still in First Place. We can’t deny it anymore – this team is for real.
Now, I am calling “Shenannigan’s.” Stop making excuses and just admit that you are afraid to hope again. We are Cleveland. We are Believe-land. We can’t distance ourselves from our sports. It’s not who we are. We are sports fans who live and breathe with our teams. And it’s time to let it go and embrace the Tribe again.
Today I am going to take my first real step towards getting over it – I am buying tickets to the game tonight and I am going out on a date with the Indians. I think that this could be the start of a beautiful friendship for us. And I think you will feel a lot better if you try it too.
I’m Kate, and that’s my take.