This past week the residents of Cleveland rejoiced on the news that Labron James would return to play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers. James is considered a great athlete and maybe the best playing basketball today. Basketball players are all tall men (or women), some just taller than others. Their ability to almost float in air as they drive for the hoop is magical.
College and Professional football teams are busily preparing for their 2014-15 season. Each team has picked their best athletes and are filling their heads full of new plays. While the goal of each team remains making gobs of money, the speed and agility of these player, cutting left or right and then accelerating to top speed is breathtaking.
Baseball has reached its mid-summer break. Time for the annual “all-star” game. In a hard to imagine the picking process, fans select the starting “all-star team” by voting as many times as they wish for the player of their choice. All Stars? The second half of the 2014 Baseball season will begin later this week. Winning teams for sure make more money. They almost always possess the best players too. Hitting a baseball traveling at close to 100 mph is an amazing accomplishment.
Not to be overlooked, ice hockey professional teams are also screening junior league players for future stars. Come the winter, winning hockey teams can thrill the audience and crowd out basketball as a fan favorite with their full rink dashes and powerful slap shots. For those fortunate franchises, hockey means money.
Stepping back, it appears we have a deal with organized sports. We pay for tickets, television rights, and merchandize. In return we expect to see great athletes, performing great athletic feats, and of course, winning. Fair deal?
Yesterday made one wonder. The FIFA World Cup Soccer championship took place in Brazil. Germany beat Argentine 1-0 after 120 minutes of full out effort by both teams. Watching these athletes run, cut, and jump to head the ball and then racing back on defense was awe inspiring. Looking at each athlete, there was no sign of fat. Each player was fit and gave no hint of wanting to pause. (I cannot think of now popular American sports athlete who look this fit.) While most of these athletes play for club teams and earn a good living, playing for a national team is an honor. Lots of money was made by FIFA but for the players, it was about winning for their country.
What could be more demanding and athletic than world class soccer? Hmmm.
How about bicycle racing and the Tour d’France?