Lebron James, in an essay recently released announcing his return to Cleveland, wrote the following:
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.
Lebron's words, if nothing else, give us a sense of who he is and what he values. And I must say, I admire his values and I respect him for acting in accordance with those values/beliefs. He's not taking the easy way out, and he's making the decision knowing that his love of family, friends, and the Cleveland area mean more to him than championships, prestige, and his legacy. In Lebron's world, there are more important things than the game of basketball.
On Sunday, I'll be rooting for the “flea” (Lionel Messi) the Argentinan squad.
Not because I only root for the team that I think will win. I actually think that Germany will win.
Not because I don't like the German side. I'm actually a big fan of Jogi Löw, Klose, Müller, and crew. They're classy, their execution is almost always flawless, and they are a prototypical example of “German precision.”
Because like Lebron, I believe that some things are more important than the game and the Argentinian people, the Argentinian nation needs a win. Particularly right now.
Inflation in Argentina is already running at above 30% annually; President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is in the midst of a battle with vulture funds in the U.S. regarding outstanding sovereign debt...and if she loses, Argentina will most likely default on its sovereign debt for the second time in 12 years. Add to the situation the fact that the 10 years of “growth” that the nation experienced has recently been proven as artificial. It was driven by heavy government spending and the country is now beginning to pay the price for it. GDP has now been in decline for two successive quarters, meeting the technical definition of a recession, and conditions are not expected to improve until well into 2015.
Oh yeah, I forgot, Argentina's Vice President is in the midst of a legal battle over corruption charges.
So yes, by all accounts, Argentina needs a win.
But that brings about the question will a win even matter?
Well, yes, I imagine that for a time it would distract citizens and lessen the pain that they are feeling. After all, in January 2014, the Argentinian government began curbing online shopping from foreign websites to prevent cash from leaving the country. Of equal concern, the reason people were even shopping on these sites in the first place was because the cost of living in Argentina had become ridiculously high due to the economic troubles.
However, though less likely, a win has the potential to trigger a series of actions by President Kirchner that could help mitigate the pain the country will feel in the long run. How so?
President Kirchner is beginning the last 18 months of her second consecutive period at head of state. She can't run for a third period. She has no reason to pander or let “politics” get in the way of running the country. With Argentinian spirits riding high and goodwill at a peak, she could have the leverage and perhaps courage to make the tough economic decisions to help the country deal with its debt and thrive in the long term.
Is this scenario nothing more than a fantasy? Maybe not. President Kirchner raised public transportation costs mid-World Cup and there were no riots. No protest. Limited outspoken criticism. Lots of apathy. So, I'm holding out hope. Because some things are more important than a game.
So for that reason and that reason alone, on Sunday, I'll be rooting for The Flea & Co. They could use a win right now.