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Clevelanders Still Debate on “What to do”

December 2, 2010

Boo him? Turn your back on him? Silent response? Make up your mind already, but if anything make sure there is no violence. Let the King return in peace.


CLEVELAND, Ohio — Fans have been gearing up for LeBron James’ return since July 8. Fueled by anger, outrage, insult and, in some cases, alcohol, they’re primed to put on a performance unrivaled in the history of sport. The volume and vitriol could reach dangerous levels.

Of course, there have been counterproposals. One fan suggested greeting James with silence. Another suggested fans turn their backs on him when he is introduced, just as he turned his back on the Cavs when he announced his decision to leave.

Kevin Force, a Cavs fan from Columbus, has suggested that fans boycott the game and spend their money at the local bars and restaurants that have suffered in the wake of James’ departure.

David Morgenstern, a Cleveland native who lives in New York City, said the thing that would upset James the most is if fans ignored him — and cheered for the return of Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

Bob Colman has another idea. Worried about what he calls the potential “freak show” that could greet James and a huge TNT television audience, Colman, a Cleveland Heights High School and Ohio State graduate who lives in Palm Desert, Calif., asks, “What if they ‘witnessed’ a show of class, dignity and respect, sprinkled with good sportsmanship?”

Hear him out.

“I know how we feel about LeBron leaving, and how we feel about the way he did it,” he said. “We feel hurt and betrayed and I know how he quit in that last game. But let it go. It’s over.

“What is not over is the idea of attracting future free agents and compelling existing players to stay. Would the sports world take notice if Cleveland showed some class? You betcha. Would NBA players take notice? Not all, but plenty would.

“Cleveland has the opportunity to stand out in a good way. What would be left to say by the pundits and TV journalists if LeBron weren’t booed? What if we didn’t ignore the positives of the past seven years?

“We sure had some pretty good games to watch.

“We have two choices, we could go on being the city that thanked Jim Thome for 12 years of class and great play by booing him mercilessly upon his return, or we could shock the sports world. All it would take is some class, and a group effort — not because LeBron deserves it [he doesn’t] but because Cleveland deserves it.”

But for all of you who choose to ignore the above suggestions and spend the night screaming your lungs out, here’s some advice from Dr. Michael Benninger, a voice specialist who is the chairman of the Head & Neck Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

“The longer you do it and the louder you do it, the more likely it is that you’re going to end up with some sort of problem,” he said. That includes vocal hemorrhage, which can lead to longer-term problems, including polyps, cysts or scarring.

Benninger suggests fans use their voices in moderation (in intensity and frequency) and stay hydrated — with non-alcoholic beverages, like water.

“The issue with alcohol is three-fold,” he said.

“No. 1, alcohol dehydrates you, and your vocal cords need lubrication. No. 2, it tends to make people disinhibited. Lastly, it actually has an anesthetic effect. It numbs you a bit. So if you’re causing harm or injury, you may not even notice it until it’s fairly significant.”

Benninger said fans who find themselves very hoarse for more than a few days or with significant throat pain for a few days probably need to see a doctor.

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