I try not to be a hysteric about the demise of our nation’s young men because it’s almost trite to moan about it. And the truth is, I must admit that when I was a “young man” people were most certainly wringing their hands over me.
(Not that they still aren’t but hey, old habits die hard, right? LOL!)
Like all teens, however, I had role models, people who played a large role in my own sense of identity — even though I had never met them. And being that I love sports, I must admit that there were some star athletes who literally shaped the framework of my own self-perception during that era of my life.
Today our young men do much the same thing. This brings me to LeBron James.
Look, I like LeBron. He’s an amazing basketball player, a apparently good-hearted guy and quite an engaging personality.
But last week when his team lost in their quest for the championship he walked off the court without shaking hands with his opponents. Claims he was too much of a competitor to do such a thing.
I saw this in Yahoo sports and just basically had to copy and paste it. LeBron was wrong. This writer excellently explains why.
(NOTE: I can find the source material on this article as I copied it late at night. But these words below are not mine — they are just spot on and well worth repeating — so I pinched them from the article, and I’d gladly credit the writer if I knew where I got it from.)
“I’m a competitor,” LeBron said. “That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense to me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
That’s almost believable, because James has grown up in an era in which the definition of a great competitor has been badly skewed. We heap so much praise on an athlete who “hates to lose” that some players don’t even recognize when that hatred goes too far. It’s been said that Michael Jordan would have cheated his own grandmother to win at cards. That’s not passion. That’s unhealthy.
But so many athletes are now cut from that cloth. They think the inability to deal with defeat gracefully is a sign of competitive fire, when it’s often a sign of immaturity. A real competitor gives every ounce of effort to win, but is enough of a man to give respect to an opponent who does the same and prevails.
How dead-on is this writer? I just love this line…
They think the inability to deal with defeat gracefully is a sign of competitive fire, when it’s often a sign of immaturity. A real competitor gives every ounce of effort to win, but is enough of a man to give respect to an opponent who does the same and prevails.
Whereas the spirit of competition, the nobility and the passion for sport, used to be the driving force behind the games (well, at least in Greek times), now, the game is all about who wins as if the means justify the ends. (See Dick Cheney and the torture argument for how this twisted thinking extrapolates into warped perceptions during adulthood.)
Are our young men more adrift than they were when I was a kid or am I just more attuned to what is a constant adriftness in young men during this era of their lives now that I am a bit more long in the tooth?
I’d be lying if I did not acknowledge being troubled by the stuff that is going on these days with young men. I mean, holy friggin’ smokes, earlier in the week I had a student tell me she was sexually assaulted by 3 boys on our campus. Now when I was a teen, I was most certainly a hell-raiser. But rape? Gimme a break. My moral compass might have been askew but it hadn’t been completely amputated from my conscience.
What is up these days? And more importantly, is there anything more I/we can to to help fix it.