Are all professional athletes really just punks? Are they people who will inevitably disappoint their fans by engaging in some sort of selfish, foolish, reckless act?
Are these people all merely soldiers of fortune, who will work for money — and the hell with everything else?
Lately, you can count LeBron James and Derek Jeter in the ranks of the macho heartbreakers.
James engaged in the ultimate selfish act: He hosted a TV show for an hour in prime time and kept America waiting in suspense until he announced his plans, to ride the coattails of fellow all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
James left his hometown Cleveland Cavs feeling devastated and broken. He had lived in Ohio his whole life but all that mattered was that he could probably stand in line to win an NBA championship in Miami.
Much was made that James took considerably less money in this arrangement, but, of course, this theory is nonsense.
James will make more dough as an NBA champ, anyway — especially now that Tiger Woods' star has dimmed for a while and sponsors are desperately searching for champions to endorse their soda, beer, and cars.
Meanwhile, Jeter punked out, too. He skipped the funeral service of Bob Sheppard, who was the voice of Yankee Stadium since 1951 and died recently at the age of 99. He had been in poor health for a few years.
Jeter had always made a point of having Sheppard announce his appearances in the batter's box at Yankee Stadium — happily attaching himself to the glorious legacy of the House That Ruth Built.
But Jeter couldn't drag himself to the funeral service, disappointing many of his fans who expected him to act like a leader off the field as well as on it.
Of course, if Jeter and James do win their sports' titles, all will be forgiven. That's the American way, after all. We all love a champion, right? Or will we forgive and forget?
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.
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