Joseph Schwerdt wrote those words and quite a few more to Lebron James when James tweeted something about refocusing, about having no friends except his fellow soldiers when he’s at war. That didn’t sit well with Mr. Schwerdt. At all:
Just wanted to let you know: You are not at war. You are not a soldier.
What was said on your KingJames Twitter post?
“20+ games left in phase 2. I’m ReFOCUSED! No prisoners, I have no friends when at WAR besides my Soldiers.”
You can tweet it all you want. But what you do and who you are is not even close to what they do and who they are.
You are probably a nice guy. And you are not the first athlete to compare sports to war; athletes to warriors; games to battle. I don’t mean to single you out. But it is time to stop those comparisons.
War. Games. Not even close.
We are at war. Remember?
People die in wars. They rarely die playing the games you play. If they do, it is not because they are attacked or shot at or booby trapped by an enemy.
People lose limbs in war. Their bodies are torn apart by IEDs. Their legs and arms are ripped through by bullets and rockets.
You play in arenas in front of adoring fans. You don’t walk streets in villages not knowing who the enemy is or what might be lurking on a roadside, around a corner or behind a door.
Athletes get concussions, serious business for sure. But soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen get post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. They lose their sight and their hearing in bomb blasts.
You travel to your games in the comfort of a chartered plane. You go home to an opulent mansion. You have little danger of coming home in a flag-draped box.
You carry a basketball, not a 50-pound backpack and a rifle. You wear sneakers, not boots. You wear a jersey, not a Kevlar vest.
In Afghanistan right now, soldiers and Marines are sleeping in bedrolls outside in the cold. They cook over an open flame. Think of that the next time you load up at the clubhouse buffet.
You chose to take your talents to South Beach. They chose to defend this country. We all make choices. Please choose not to compare yourself to a soldier or a Marine. Please choose not to say what you do is war or battle. It simply isn’t.
I know you meant no disrespect to our fighting forces. But it is disrespectful. It underscores how little we know about what our service personnel go through and how much they and their families sacrifice.
Can’t we remember that we are at war? That our men and women are dying? I often can think about nothing else.
I have two sons in the United States Marine Corps. One is in Afghanistan as I write this. He is in harm’s way every day. Please pray that he comes home in one piece.
He is at war. You are not.
My other son is in the Marine reserves. Please pray he does not get deployed and put in danger. Then he’ll be at war. You won’t.
My brother served in Vietnam. Eighteen months. He came home, but many others didn’t. He came home intact. Unfortunately, so are his memories.
He was at war. You never were.
My uncle died in World War II. His body was torn open during an attack on PT 154 near the Solomon Islands on the night of Nov. 13, 1943.
He died in battle. A basketball game is not a battle. It’s a game.
His twin brother was captured around the same time after his plane was shot down over Germany. Years lost as a prisoner of war. Think of that the next time you consider taking no prisoners on the basketball court.
I just wanted to let you know. Not the same. Not even close.
Over the top? Or right on the money?
Let us know in the comments.
H/T Big Peace.