The story being told is that he is coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers to try and bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. However, there is a bigger story that has broad implications for many Midwest cities. James likened his four years in Miami to going off to college, which speaks to a broader mindset. The Midwest has seen several population decreases over the past 50 years as manufacturing sector, once the engine of U.S. growth, has faltered. Many young people leave the Midwest in search of jobs, entertainment, etc. Even those who attend college in Midwest jump to the coasts, leaving behind an aging population and declining base.
We have seen evidence of African American athletes use their financial resources to try and revitalized neighborhoods plagued by blight and crime (such as Magic Johnson), this is the first time a current superstar has at their athletic peak used free agency as a means of providing a beacon for their community. While his returning to the Cavs will provide a financial boon to Cleveland and the greater Northeast Ohio region, he wants to show that Cleveland (and thus the Midwest) can be a choice for anyone to work and to live.
The key line in his letter is this one: “Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business.” Municipalities all across the Industrial Midwest have been racking their brains over how to get young people to do it.
LeBron James hopes he is the answer.
Ajilore is an economics professor at the University of Toledo.
More Commentary Headlines
5 myths about weight loss I-1401 will go after antique owners, not ivory traffickers Added bus service would aid our economy, quality of life One question could make debates worthwhile As they have for 22 years, voters should back tax limits Granite Falls should switch to city manager system I-1366 would force deep cuts that would hurt kids, others Support expansion of Community Transit service
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.