Having Class Is More Important Than Million-Dollar Contracts

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Millions of young viewers around the world watched the man they call “The Chosen One” refuse to shake hands with opponents after his team lost to the Orlando Magic in a fierce NBA semifinal battle.

LeBron James, a revered and talented professional basketball player who is said to be both gracious and respectful to fans, simply walked off the court after the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Magic earlier this month.

League policy requires that all players demonstrate sportsmanship by shaking hands after the game, a rule most high school coaches also enforce.

Now, the editor of a book about life’s lessons through sports has spoken up about the incident. What she has to say makes a lot of sense to coaches, teachers and parents who want their children to have high morals, do the right things and not be adversely influenced by misguided professional athletes.

Kelly Johnson, editor of “A Better Man, True American Heroes Speak to Young Men on Love, Power, Pride and What it Really Means to be a Man,” says LeBron’s “reputation precedes him. And just because he is disappointed doesn’t mean he’s excused from doing the right thing.”

She also advises parents and coaches to talk to young athletes about what occurred following the game. She also asks parents and coaches to not vilify or excuse LeBron’s actions, but to use them as teaching moments that could yield lessons of a lifetime.

That lesson, she writes is, “In most situations there’s a hard road and an easy road. Very often, the hard road is the right road. LeBron had the chance to take it and he didn’t.”

Johnson argues LeBron let the NBA, his team and his fans down.

NBA Commissioner David Stern fined LeBron $25,000 for the action, but that’s only a drop in the bucket to what he earns as one of the highest paid athletes in professional sports.

All of us who have either coached or played sports know it’s very difficult, gut-wrenching in fact, to show humility and shake hands only seconds after you’ve had your lunch handed to you.

But it’s in those moments, that young athletes must find their way to a higher standard.

It’s called showing a little class, a good upbringing. Maybe in life, those are more important than a multimillion-dollar contract.

Youth football registration

A final registration for Payson youth league football play will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 20 at Chapman Auto Center. See Friday’s Roundup for more information.

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