Sports crazy

“LeBron James has no soul!”

The words shot through the night outside the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich nearly four years ago. And what was the crime of the NBA MVP to provoke such an intense reaction? He had very publicly dashed the hopes and dreams of Knicks fans by, as he put it, deciding to “bring my talents to South Beach” and sign with the Miami Heat in a much-derided live ESPN special called The Decision.

Now why the decision was made to hold the LeBron James free agency spectacular in Greenwich remains a bit of a head-scratcher. They don’t have a Boys & Girls Club in Miami? But it did lead to one of those surreal and fun nights in Greenwich where the town was the absolute center of the sports world and did create a brief, but powerful Internet buzz when all of a sudden word came out, “OMG! Pat Riley is at Polpo RIGHT NOW! LEBRON IS GOING TO BE ON THE HEAT!”

So, four years later, is Greenwich set to do it again? Now that LeBron has opted out of his contract with the Heat are we poised for The Decision II: The Search for More Money? It’s probably best not to hold your breath, as this time the free agency for the best player in the NBA is likely to be a far quieter affair that many are already predicting will lead to him resigning with the Heat … unless he goes back to the Cavaliers … or signs with the Lakers … or the Clippers … or the Rockets.

But being able to flash back to The Decision four years later serves as an excellent reminder about how few things seem to both bond people together and rip them apart quite like sports. It would take a whole lot for people to spend their night camped outside the Boys & Girls Club but a NBA superstar can do it. And have you ever seen anything quite like the gamut of emotions that played out in real time online this past Sunday in the World Cup when the USA had a critical match with Portugal?

“Ahhh soccer is stupid. Nothing ever happens.” “What? The USA is losing? This sport is stupid.” “Wait? We tied? Go America!” “YES!!!! WE’RE WINNING! USA! USA USA! SOCCER IS THE GREATEST SPORT EVER! WE’RE GOING TO WIN THE WORLD CUP?” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HOW DID WE GIVE UP THAT GOAL? NOOOOOOOO! THIS ISN’T EVEN A REAL SPORT ANYWAY! IT’S SO STUPID! EXTRA TIME IS RIDICULOUS AND UNFAIR!”

Chances are if you were watching or following along on Twitter or any other social media that was exactly the range of reactions you saw. Sports has that power like nothing else does. People are cynical about just about every other institution in the world, but sports still has the transformative effect of turning people who don’t know a thing about soccer (excuse us, football) into rabid fans and then into bitter, heartbroken husks all within a few hours.

There’s nothing like sports to pump us up and nothing shatters you quite like it either. It bonds people together even if it’s in a shared feeling about how much they hate a certain team (see that glorious fraternity of those who despise the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Lakers, the New England Patriots and so on). It’s agonizing, but it’s also fun.

We are a nation obsessed with sports and that’s not going to change any time soon, so good luck to America today during the showdown with Germany and make sure and listen to Nutmeg Sports at 2 p.m. at HANRadio.com because this is a beast that’s fun to feed.

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