Ultimately, except for an area wide collective good feeling among Cleveland Cavaliers fans in northeast Ohio, life in that area of the country is not going to change with an NBA championship won by the local team.
If you want to see what a championship to an area really means, go to a museum in Seattle celebrating local life and you will see the 1979 NBA championship trophy won by the Seattle SuperSonics. It is a lifeless trophy in a display next to a model of a multiple purpose sports stadium that once housed Seattle’s Major League Baseball and National Football League teams. The basketball team is long gone; Oklahoma investors bought it and moved it to Oklahoma City. The stadium was imploded even though there were was still a mortgage to be paid. There were two stadiums built with public money to replace the old one.
LeBron James is allowing his highly acclaimed basketball status to be a difference maker. There are many LeBron fans and many detractors that go along with the sports narrative of being the ultimate non-scripted reality TV show– a narrative that the National Football League has embraced.
Apparently, LeBron James wants to be a game changer not only on the basketball court. Much to be admired, he is trying to improve the lives of people he does not know, specifically “at-risk” youth. The LeBron James Foundation is paying for 2,000 scholarships at the University of Akron which is far more of an impact than any Cleveland Cavaliers championship.
A basketball or baseball title, a Super Bowl championship, a Stanley Cup win, or an Olympic medal in any given city does not become an economic generator. A championship brings a community together for a parade or rally, but has never been effective in bringing positive change to a community. Individuals like LeBron James can with help, but sports championships are little more than brief feel good moments.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.