2010 Reflections: Rooting For Laundry

I’m a sports junkie. I played four sports in high school, three in college. I wake up every morning to ESPN (or the Golf Channel when in season). I’m a washed up athlete, and a forever fan of most notably college hoops, professional football and golf. So when asked to reflect on the year, my jock brain instinctively switched to sports.

To many, the biggest sports story of the year began in July with LeBron James’ shocking declaration “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” It ended in dramatic fashion in December, with his unwelcomed return to a scorned city of Cleveland in his Miami Heat uniform.

Normally I go out of my way to not pay attention to the NBA because of the tarnished image they have created in my head. But this time I did, probably because as a Green Bay Packer fan, it sounded all too familiar.

This year, as we witnessed yet another adored and elite athlete jump ship for a bigger paycheck or a greater chance at a championship, I couldn’t help but think of comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s assessment that we’re all just “rooting for laundry.”

If I could have somehow known then, what I know now, I would have choked back those tears I shed for Brett Favre during his first retirement press conference. Never in a million years could I have predicted that in just over a year he would return to Lambeau wearing the enemy’s clothing! I feel so stupid – how could I have been so vulnerable!

Brett Favre in purple, King James with Miami Heat warm-ups, Michael Jordan wearing a Wizard uniform, Wayne Gretzky in an L.A. King jersey…why does the sight or even mere thought of our superhero in their costume evoke such a strong emotion in a fan’s heart?

I think it’s because the fan has discovered a simple and painful truth: that our beloved one doesn’t care about us the way we care about him. If he did, he simply wouldn’t be wearing those colors!

LeBron left Cleveland for a 110 million reasons. Brett left us because he wasn’t ready to hang it up. I can be fairly certain that neither had “hurting the fan’s feelings” as a motive for departing.

With professional players bouncing around teams at the whiff of a crispier dollar, it is pretty difficult to justify loyalty to any one team or individual. Maybe it took Brett breaking up with me and telling me that he just wants be friends to see how silly it all really is.

So a couple of weeks ago when I heard the evil boos as LeBron ran onto the court of Gund Arena, it made me chuckle and think of Seinfeld again; it was the same thought I had when I saw Brett storm Lambeau for a second time…

“Boooo! Different shirt!”