LeBron James is the most relevant, discussed, hated, and known player in professional sports right now.  He is this generation’s version of Magic Johnson.  At this point in time, LeBron and the Miami Heat are up 3-1 in the 2012 NBA Finals on the young Oklahoma City Thunder.  LeBron has absolutely carried Miami throughout these playoffs with his outstanding consistent play.  He scored 26 in Game 4 and it was considered a letdown as far as scoring goes for him.  The pressure and precedents he sets for himself have never been higher for a player.  He scores 30 in his sleep just by driving to the basket and posting up.  He is the best player in the world and in his prime.  Yet, he is the most hated player in the game.  Why?

LeBron’s haters say he is scared of the moment, that he isn’t clutch.  They say he is a terrible jump shooter and shoots it too much.  Those are his only two criticisms yet he is the most hated player in the world.  Sure he left Cleveland in a terrible way, deserted his home city where he played and lived all his life and he “quit” in Game 5 of the Boston series in 2010 because he was finished in Cleveland.  Now, all those fans that loved LeBron like their own son have turned their backs on him and hate him for making the best business and basketball decision he could have made.  Staying in Cleveland was suicide for his career.  He had no chance of winning a championship there.  They had no cap room to give and had no trading pieces to make them a better team.  Their draft picks with LeBron would always be low first round because they would be in the playoffs but never get a ring.  It wasn’t worth it for him to stay there.  Now I do agree that “The Decision” and the celebration afterwards made people absolutely despise him.  My question for those people is, “Where is all the hate for Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?”  They did the same EXACT thing as LeBron yet he gets all of the venom and hate placed on him.  Why only hate LeBron and the team as a whole and not hate Wade and Bosh as much as LeBron?  There is the first hypocrisy.

Second, yes LeBron played terrible in the Finals last year and didnt show up in the 4th quarter, but that defeat was needed for him to realize that talent and better teammates were not the only reason he wasn’t going to get it done.  He has completely changed his approach this year in the playoffs.  There is not one game where you can say LeBron has had a bad game in these entire playoffs.  Who else can you say that about?  Also, in critical closeout or series-saving games, LeBron has been unconscionable on the court.  40/18/9 in Game 4 of Indiana down 2-1 at their place.  Down 3-2 at Boston in Game 6 he had 45/15/5.  In the Finals so far he has averaged 30 and 10.  Last night he went back to old LeBron playing point-forward and scored “only” 26 but had 12 assists, 10 in the 1st half.  I expect nothing short of amazing from LeBron in Game 5.  This is the moment he has been waiting for his whole life, he understands and embraces the pressure at this point and he will get it done.  The hypocrisy from his detractors is that you have to nitpick to look for things he hasn’t done in these playoffs in order to prove your point.  If any other player, such as Kevin Durant, did this game in and game out, he would be considered approaching Jordan status.  Dwyane Wade did not show up in Boston, Chris Bosh missed all of the Indiana series except for a half, and pretty much all of the Boston series yet there was a constant that kept them alive, LeBron James.  While he was scoring 30 a night, he had no help until the end of the Pacers series when Wade picked up his play, and in Game 7 of the Boston series when Bosh played great.  Now he is finally receiving some help in the Finals and the Heat are about to close out the Thunder.  I saw a stat today that said LeBron is the first player in NBA history to score 650+ points, 200 rebounds, and 100 assists in a single postseason.  Not even Magic Johnson did that.  That is how great he has been.  It is a foregone conclusion he will be the Finals MVP when they win it all and his detractors still will nitpick saying he can’t do it again, that he will get complacent, succumb to the lifestyle, etc. 

These detractors are the same people that supported him his entire time in Cleveland and never dared say anything bad about him because he was the savior of Cleveland.  Blame Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry, not LeBron for the Cavs failures.  Thta’s the simple fact.  He played his heart out for seven years in Cleveland, gave that city everything he had and it wasn’t enough.  What makes you think the next 7 would have been any better?  Kyrie Irving was only drafted because LeBron left.  I am from Ohio, but I do not hate LeBron.  Why?  I appreciate greatness when I see it and this man has it.  Why should I spend all my time hating on the best player in the world when I can appreciate what he can do on a basketball court.  I only hate players when it is warranted, such as criminal acts or just being a bad human being.  LeBron is a model citizen and a great human being, he made one mistake.  My final message Cleveland fans: You have Kyrie Irving and a new piece coming in this year, let it go.  Stop worrying about LeBron, move on, start a new chapter in your life and let it go.  LeBron has figured out what it takes to win a championship and he is not going away.  It’s time to sit down, shut up, and let it go.  You look more and more foolish every time you criticize him and it has turned into sour grapes.

I have not written a blog in a while mainly because I felt nobody was reading so there was no point.  I guess it was because I had not been passionate about something until now.  I just read and watched this link about a 13 year old girl being bullied to the point of suicide.  Now it is not like I haven’t seen these stories before or watched shows that uncover the problems of bullying.  I know and have known all too well the problems and prevalence of bullying in today’s society.  I just passed them off as isolated incidents that did not mean anything to me because it “never happened to me.”

Yes it is true I was never bullied, but I convinced myself I never saw it happen for so many years when in reality I was living a lie.  I was 4’4 entering 7th grade and always the shortest kid in my class.  I grew to 4’8 for 8th grade, but still was as short as the next smallest person.  I was a very nerdy kid who once cried(in 5th grade) because I thought I lost a short essay that I had to read to the class.  I had braces, a pallet expander and herbst appliance all in at the same time in 7th grade which made it extremely hard for me to talk correctly, not to mention I had to slurp every 5 seconds to keep the saliva down in my mouth.  I was a prime candidate to get bullied; I had all the right characteristics.  I found what worked for me was to be quiet, avoid any and all confrontations, and be as nice to people as humanly possible.  The one thing I did have going for me was I was at least somewhat athletic and played sports(soccer and track).  This was my outlet that allowed me to form friendships and avoid all the bad things that come from middle school.

Why did I mention all this if I wasn’t bullied?  Because little did I know I was a bully.  In 8th grade I was in a general music class that we had in the cafeteria.  We basically just learned how to play instruments.  There was a kid who was in 7th grade that sat in the middle of the class and I was in the back.  He was an albino who also seemed to have a mental problem.  He had kind of a slow speech and had a big temper.  I will call him Joe.  One day a kid in the same grade as me that I knew real well started to mess with him.  He would call Joe names at first just to get him pissed off because it was funny.  Joe would always say “Stop Josh!” but he would just laugh and keep doing it until the teacher showed up.  After a while, Joe had made me laugh so much from his anger I started to join in.  It evolved from name-calling to telling him he sucked at playing the guitar or we would laugh when he would present something to the class.  Joe was always seeking approval and we would just laugh at him.  It was at this point we would make fun of him when the teacher was around.  He would always tell the teacher on Josh and all she would say was “Come on now, stop it Josh.” She did not like Joe all that much because he would always blurt out answers and ask questions and generally just annoy her so she didn’t pay much mind.  She even laughed at some of the stuff we said.

I never knew this was bullying.  I just thought it was having fun and giving my school day some amusement.  I mean, after all, how harmful can words really be?  Suck it up right?  Well I never came to the realization this was bullying until I read this article today.  Obviously these girls were doing things much worse than I did, but the point still stands.  You never know how much you hurt someone until it is too late.  I have a sister who is currently finishing up her 7th grade year and is the same age as the girl in the article.  The reason this story hit me so hard was not only that similarity, but the fact that she hung herself right after having “Family Game Night.”  My family has done that every Sunday night.  I just want to tell everyone how important it is to stand up for someone.  Many people only see bullying as physical violence, which is how I saw it for years and convinced myself we had none, when it is really any form of abuse. 

I know my story is pretty tame compared to other stories.  Nobody died, no one threatened to kill themselves, etc, but this is the stuff we need to realize is the most common form of bullying.  There are a few reasons why it happens.

1.  The kids are amused by the actions of a person and antagonize them to do it more(like my case).

2.  The kids feel threatened or betrayed by a kid and decide to get revenge.

3.  A kid has something to gain by bullying the kid(power, money, etc.).

4.  A kid was bullied in the past and justifies the bullying by getting revenge on the easiest target to feel better about themselves(these are the kids who need counseling or anger management more than the others).

These four are the main ways people get bullied.  You’ll notice I differed and said “kids” and “a kid” in some of my posts.  The first two are extremely rare by one kid and the last two are extremely rare in groups.  #3 can definitely be used in groups, but usually it is one kid because it is for his gain, not his friends.  #4 is all about one kid’s past troubles so he may try to get friends on their side, but he is the one with the interest in bullying the other kid, not his friends.

#1 is all about amusement.  If a kid does something unusual(like how they laugh), kids will try to exploit that for their own amusement.  Laughter is not funny by yourself, it is only funny when it is shared.  If multiple people share your idea that the kid’s laugh is funny, you will all try to make him laugh in a condescending way.  It makes it seem like you are being nice, but in all reality you are laughing at the kid.

#2 is when a new person comes to school and becomes popular really fast.  Another type is popular in girl cases where a girl “steals” another girl’s boyfriend.  This also covers when significant others break up and decide to get revenge.  These kids will try to get their friends on their side and gang up on the victim in order to torment them.  This can be the most vicious kind of bullying because the bullies are really pissed off and won’t stop.

All it takes to make a difference is to just recognize one of these signs in your school or everyday life.  There are millions of kids in the world who need this advice.  They need to be taught what bullying really is, rather than what it can become.  The examples I have laid out are early warning signs.  They are not the examples you see in the news where curse words are used or derogatory names or physical violence.  Those are bullying signs anyone can recognize.  It is the unseen, subtle remarks that ignite the flames.  The more acceptance someone receives, the more likely they are to continue it.  It should not take a child dying to wake us up and realize what bullying really is.  I have laid it out the best way I can so for anyone that reads this I hope it has opened your eyes just a little bit.  If it saves one person’s life, that’s all that matters.  Even if it is not a life, if it can improve someone’s daily life and make them a better person or realize what they are doing is bullying like I failed to, then that is just as great of a result.

The Penn State scandal has been widely talked about for the last week and a half as Penn State football has been crushed to the ground.  All of this happened because of one man, long-time assistant and close confidant of coach Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky.  He was indicted on 40 counts of sexual abuse charges against eight victims who were underaged boys that Sandusky took advantage of through his charity, Second Mile.

These are the kinds of charges that nobody wants to hear about and everybody and their mother has crucified Sandusky for these charges claiming he is guilty.  I agree with these assessments, based largely on how many counts are against him, two different eyewitness accounts of sexual acts performed on young boys in the Penn State showers, and his interview with Bob Costas.

Where I differ with everybody else, is the fact that Joe Paterno needed to be fired.  JoePa has been the face of Penn State longer than many people have been alive, including myself, and not once has any allegation ever came up that was this damning against his program or anywhere even close.  Penn State football has been regarded as one of the cleanest programs in all of college sports despite rogue boosters, agents, and drugs giving way to many other universities.  Sandusky was already retired from Penn State when Paterno received the news from graduate assistant Mike McQueary of what he saw in the showers.  Nobody knows for sure what Mike told JoePa in the meeting they had about the incident, but Tim Curley, Penn State’s athletic director described it as horsing around.

If McQueary did not go into detail like he did in the indictment and Curley is telling the truth, why would Paterno suspect anything as egregious as the report suggests happened?  He knew Sandusky for over 30 years and coached with him all that time.  When you get to know somebody that well, people go into denial when they hear of things anywhere near this magnitude.  Think about it, if someone you knew well, maybe a close friend who you have known for ten years, came up to you and told you “I think I just saw your dad and a little boy in the showers and he was raping him.”  That is as blunt as you can put it.  If your friend told you this and your dad is Sandusky’s age, who would you believe?  I sure as hell would not believe my friend because I know my dad and he would never do something like that ever.  Right there I am going into denial.  If McQueary said “horsing around” instead of rape or sex, why would Joe believe he was raping a little boy?

Now I agree that Joe should have questioned Sandusky about why he was showering with a little boy in the first place, but since he was no longer on the staff, did it really concern Joe anymore?  Sure he was still connected as a professor emeritus at the University, but he was no longer a coach.  Did Joe think he should have taken on that responsibility?  I doubt it.  Again, it all goes back to denial.  I am positive nobody at Penn State believed Sandusky was a pedophile before McQueary came to them.  What makes the story extremely sad is that nobody ever talked to him about showering with those boys.  People have been saying he had a moral obligation to go to the police as a coach of the team.  My problem with that is Sandusky was no longer part of the team so why should Joe bear that responsibility?  That should be Graham Spanier’s job as the president of the University or Tim Curley the athletic director, not JoePa.  All in all, it is horrible the way Joe’s career had to end at Penn State.  If and when Sandusky is convicted, I do not see any way Penn State gets out of this without a sever punishment by the NCAA.  Failure to monitor should definitely come down on them and lack of institutional control is also a possiblity.  This can be blamed on the higher-ups for not doing anything about it, but JoePa did what he was supposed to do, report it, and move on.  It was not his problem to deal with.

Hello everyone,

I would like to start off my first blog post by describing what you can expect from my posts.  I am a sports fanatic growing up being an Ohio State fan and now I attend Ohio University.  As a sports fan, that is what this blog will be about.  I will talk about anything in the sports world that I find interesting and try to give my fair, unbiased opinion about the subject.  My objective is not to offer advice, my objective is to analyze and explain what I am thinking as well as what I think should happen.  I hope this blog will be fun to read and I will update it frequently so feel free to follow me and comment if you like or dislike what I say.  As long as you are civil, I will respond to all my comments if possible because I feel like if people like what you have to say or even dislike it, they respect you more if they know their opinions are heard.

Thank you and thanks for reading!

Todd Ward

P.S. feel free to follow me on twitter as well @Todd_Ward_OU

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