Well, that sure was fun. Last night offered a rare glimpse of the true underbelly of professional sports and it wasn't pleasant. There was the spectacle of LeBron James using an awkward televised special to announce his intentions ("South Beach"), ESPN lobbing softball questions from the worst crew of experts ever assembled, low end corporate sponsors, and the most insane breakup letter (in Comic Sans, naturally) courtesy of Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
But if you want a silver lining from last night's LeBron James free agency meltdown, please read Will Leitch's article in New York Magazine. The former Deadspin editor wrote an excellent piece on what this terrible event meant to sports fans, the absurdity of fandom in general, and how things might never be the same.
No, tonight, it felt like everyone involved — LeBron, ESPN, Bing, the University of Phoenix, Stuart Scott, the man who once chastised fans for having the audacity to boo, Jim freaking Gray — treated the millions of people watching like stupid, mindless consumers, empty lemmings ready to follow Sport into the abyss. Here, here are the Boys & Girls Club props. Here, here is your search engine. Here, here is your online college, Here, here is your Athletic Hero. Eat. Eat. Consume. You like it. You love it. You'll always come back for more.
They're surely right, of course. But never has it been laid more bare, and never did it feel so empty. It felt like a break, the moment when the tide crested, when we looked at the games, and their players, and ourselves, and wondered: Why in the world are we watching these awful people? It was a question impossible to answer.
It's an excellent piece, and a much better way to start your day than this story about how LeBron just helped the Tea Party get more members.
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