The Burning Betrayal

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“What is to give light must endure burning”-Anton Wildgans

Jackie Robinson stated: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives”.  I can sincerely concur with this notion as my very reason for writing is to impact at least one person’s life for the better during my visitation here on planet Earth.  One would probably have very little resistance if he or she stated that sports as a whole, tends to have an impactful effect on its viewers as we recently witnessed with the loss of the great Muhammad Ali.  Ali did in fact “shake up the world” in both the athletic arena as well as in the social arena. He was a vibrant orator, considered intelligently conscious, yet provocative.  He was unapologetic when delivering his dissertation on the struggles of a society marred in hatred, violence, racism and bigotry.  In fact the Ali that is beloved world-wide today was not as beloved during his ascension into the professional boxing realm.  His decisions on religion and his freedom of choice did not settle too well on the forefront of an American society that did not except a person of African-American descent speaking out so brash and so loudly against the quote on quote establishment. I am more than sure he received a countless number of death threats due to the fact that he chose to live his life a certain way. This is in fact what America is said to be built on; the freedom of choice. I grew up in great admiration of a few athletes myself,  most of which happened to be basketball players. I can recall at some point during my unbridled days, forfeiting a night on the town in order to see what phenomenal feats Michael Jordan would accomplish during the waning seconds of a pivotal game. Yes my obsession with basketball is about as real as it can get. However I like to think of my obsession as that of a healthy obsession and not the type of obsession that borders on that of the Robert Dinero character in the movie “The Fan” (Come on Bobby!). I become euphoric when watching anything competitive as the excitement conjures up a jolt of adrenalin that pulsates throughout my veins. This indeed makes me feel lively. Of course as it is with most things we are passionate about, we tend to have both admiration and disdain for certain aspects of it.  As much as I have athletes that I have admired, I also have a list of athletes that I am not so fond of for various reasons or another.  For example I did not like the manner in which Lebron James made his exit from Cleveland (The Decision) as I felt he conducted himself in way that was classless and tasteless.  I felt the same disappointment when hearing that Kevin Durant opted to join the Goldenstate Warriors in a move I felt was not indicative of my personal philosophy and principles regarding what a superstar basketball player does during the peak of his prime years. Yes athletes disappoint us with some of the choices they make, as we find ourselves sort of living through them or having invested interest in them because of how we believe they can help the particular franchise we cheer for achieve the ultimate success of winning a championship.  Trust that I am a New York Knicks fan and we seem to specialize in disappointment. So to the fandom that is starving for success and waiting with baited breath for that illusive championship parade, do know that I empathize and document your pain as a suffering fan myself.  I can relate to the suffering fan who spent his/her own money on tickets and merchandise as you indeed have a legitimate gripe. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than hearing the final buzzer sound of a long season and there you are left with just the logo of your team on your apparel and the looming phrase of better luck next time hovering over your head like a dark Sirius cloud. Sometimes it’s just too hard to swallow.  Yes these are  the dog days of the offseason and I get it wholeheartedly. However recently what I did not get, which I found to be overly disturbing was the burning of Dwayne Wade’s jersey after he decided to part ways from the Miami Heat after thirteen loyal seasons. During these loyal thirteen seasons Dwayne Wade help to usher in three world championships, as well as, help the Miami Heat organization accrue millions of dollars in both ticket and merchandise sales. What should be noted is that Dwayne Wade assisted the organization in achieving all of these accolades while deciding to take lesser than his NBA standard value in order to ensure the team’s success. This is something unheard of in today’s modern-day game, an athlete taking less so that his/her organization can bring in better talent so that they can win more games. So one would think that with all of those accomplishments and said sacrifices that this man would receive a gracious thank you from his fans in delivering not only championships, but for also leaving everything on the floor during his thirteen year tenure in a Miami Heat uniform. But this was not such the case as there is footage of this man’s jersey being burned at the stakes by fans for making a decision to leave not of his own volition, but because the organization he made financial concessions for decided to lowball him during contract negotiations. Perhaps being a financial martyr was not the right choice to make for Dwayne Wade, but nevertheless it was a choice. So when Dwayne Wade decided to make a different choice beneficial to his perceived value and worth, why is this being met with such disdain? A disdain so venomous that it resulted in the burning of this man’s jersey. What is the burning suppose to symbolize?  Is this a new ritual or is it suggesting that you wish to burn him at the stake for trying to leave?  Does this denote some sort of ownership of the said “man”, saying that he physically belongs to you and only you?  This would make it appear that he was thought of as some sort of property or personal possession. Strangely enough this is not the first that we have seen regarding these acts of burning game jerseys as this also happened when Lebron James left Cleveland as well as when Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City. All of these ritualistic burnings stem from the fact that a man-made a professional choice during a time in which his contract deemed him worthy to do so.  So what exactly is this message conveying?  Is this stating that they are free but not until you give them permission?  Is this a modern day Salem witch trial where you are setting that person afire in order ward off their evil presence? One has to wonder how much does their ethnicity or economical worth play a part in this as well? We often see everyday people leave their respective places of employment in order to seek a better situation for both them and their families, so how does this differ from that same scenario? At the end of the day, it is just entertainment. We don’t burn down NBC or ABC because they decided to pull one of our favorite shows, so why target these athletes in particular?  Have we as a society become so infatuated with being voyeurs that we have lost sight to that which is reality? If the truth be told, we are exhibiting traits of animalistic behavior worthy of being highlighted footage on Animal Kingdom. So if enduring a burning is giving light to something, then that light is clearly showing that we are still barbaric and more than ever we are still uncivilized.#freedom #choice

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