How many times have we heard athletes say that professional sports is a business? I am not stupid. I understand why they say it. In the NFL it is especially important as a player to have that phrase as a defense mechanism. In the NFL you make your bonus money and then as soon as you are perceived to no longer be earning your keep, the team cuts you. From that perspective, I get it that sports is a business. Funny enough, if that was truly an inarguable fact, none of us would buy into the prospect of watching sports and rooting for teams.
It has happened a lot in the last few years where people have become fans of companies like they would sports teams. The most recent examples are people clinging to their cell phone carriers. Even more appropriately do you remember the satellite radio wars? How silly do the Sirius vs. XM people feel today? Well, let me tell you. I am an XM guy and I feel pretty stupid now that the companies merged and XM barely exists at all. That is what happens when you apply fandom to a company or business. Trust me when I tell you that the professional sports can’t sell that, even if the players say it constantly.
So what happens is we buy in and pretend that our rooting, love, and adoration will mean something just a little more. But, if all else fails, we can always fall back on the idea that whatever happens with our emotions, at least it will be predictable because sports are a business. Businesses are predicated on self-preservation, desire for profits, and furthering a brand. At least we can all take solace in the fact that when our standing ovations aren’t enough, that it isn’t really our fault because Manny Ramirez was supposed to take the contract for the most money. That is almost easier because then we can just be angry at economics. It’s just business.
Except when it’s not. For the Minnesota Twins, it wasn’t pure business this off-season. Yes, they paid Joe Mauer a whole lot of money to remain on their team. At the same time, it can easily be concluded that Joe Mauer certainly didn’t chase the last dollar in signing his 8-year extension. He sacrificed some common business sense.
That storyline was apparently too good for Clevelanders, except we didn’t even need it this time. We rooted, adored, defended and helped pay the greatest basketball player in Cavaliers history. But, we didn’t expect that to just be enough. We were also in a position as fans to know for a fact that he couldn’t possibly make any more money anywhere other than our fair city. All of a sudden when we finally wanted it to be exactly like a business, sports found a way to smack Cleveland in the face one more time. The method of the smack certainly didn’t help, but it is almost better that it was completely brutal. It makes the anger easier and more palatable.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Cleveland predictability doesn’t exist. Don’t try to make sense of it. You can’t.