The Respect We Owe Athletes

Sometimes we forget that athletes are human beings. I found myself feeling bad for, while at the same time laughing at, LeBron James for the exchange below that occurred on Christmas. A Warriors fan sitting courtside was mocking LeBron James for “crying” about the ref’s call. The situation changed quickly when LeBron turned around and saw the fan, who quickly changed her posture out of embarrassment.

lebron james

I thought the exchange was hilarious. But I also felt bad for James. And therein lies the source of my ambivalence: sometimes I forget that athletes are human beings because of the way we have made commodities of them. Think about the ways we speak of athletes in daily sports talk:

  • “Let’s trade Player A + 1 draft pick for Player B!”
  • “Player C is underforming so let’s cut him.”
  • “Player D is a bum!”

I guess I just wonder … did LeBron go home that night feeling genuinely hurt by the woman who mocked him? Certainly he is a public figure and he makes a lot of money. But for me I think that screen shot shed a different light on things. Athletes are human beings with real feelings, too. Let’s (at least try to) respect them.

For Boston,
Ryan Bilodeau