You know what I’m sick of? Our society’s fake outrage, our willingness to take to social media to decry one act or another( we are getting really good at this), as long as it doesn’t affect our needs and our lives. This last Saturday’s boxing match showed me that we are not as outraged by domestic violence as we would like to think.
When the video of Ray Rice dragging his girlfriend out of an elevator hit the Internet, social media went crazy and for good reason. Rice knocked his girlfriend out, then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator, as if it was perfectly normal. The NFL responded, months later, by terminating his contract, but only after a firestorm of outcry.
Adrian Peterson, a very large man even by football’s standards, beat his child with a tree switch so violently that a doctor who examined him, called the authorities after seeing the bruises to the child’s legs and butt. Peterson was later convicted of child abuse. Peterson still plays football, but for how long remains to be seen.
In 2014, 12 professional football players were charged with domestic abuse. In the last 14 years, there have been 87 arrests. It is true the public is starting to take notice and voicing their disgust to the violence, but you know what? It is easy to be outraged and call for a player’s head when it really doesn’t affect our lives. It is easy to be outraged and offended by one player knowing we can still cheer for the team. But we are awfully quiet when it comes to a sport that involves just two opponents.
Case in point. A boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao took place Saturday night. It was hyped as the fight of the century! HBO practically begged its subscribers to purchase access to this live event; between daily e-mails and robo calls, it was hard to ignore their shameless plugging of the fight. Bars and restaurants used the event to lure customers into their establishments. People talked about it for weeks. The news media couldn’t talk about it enough, as if these two modern gladiators were exactly what we needed to get our minds off of Baltimore. And, yes I think it was sadly ironic that this was used to get our minds off of culturally unacceptable violence by hyping culturally sanctioned violence.
And here’s the thing. These two modern gladiators have horrible track records when it comes to women. Mayweather has been charged 5 times with domestic abuse, one leading to jail time. Pacquiao is a congressman from the Philippines who is against the use of contraceptives. He has been quoted as saying, “God said go forth and multiply, and he didn’t mean have one or two children”. That’s right ladies, Pacquiao thinks it’s your job to over-populate the earth because God said so. The poverty rate in the Philippines is nightmarishly high, with many of its citizens earning a dollar a day. Yet, Pacquiao, a man who made his fortune by not turning the other cheek, thinks it’s best to have children, even if you can’t afford to feed them because God said so. What a great guy!
Yet, when it was announced these two would fight on national TV for millions of dollars, no one cried out. No one called for the boycotting of HBO (are you kidding, and miss Games of Thrones?), and no one called for the boycotting of any bar that hosted the event. Mayweather is a convicted wife beater, yet where was the outrage?
To be fair, the media did mention his less than stellar view on women, but no one in the media questioned the idea of letting this man in the ring. And social media, the front lines in the battle of social outrage? Crickets. Oh sure there was some mention here and there about Mayweather, but it was largely in joke form or an excuse to cheer for Pacquiao. So what’s the difference? Why the calling for the football players heads, but not Mayweather’s? Here’s what I think (and yes, it’s only my opinin).
I think outrage is proportional to how much it affects those who are outraged. With football it is easy to pick out one player and demand justice. After all, even if he is terminated or evicted, the game goes on. We can sleep well knowing we collectively called for the end of company-sanctioned (or covered –up) domestic abuse while still enjoying the game. But with boxing we can’t do that. If we were to call for Mayweather and Tyson before him, to be banned the show wouldn’t go on. We would lose out on watching the fight of the century. It doesn’t matter that Mayweather has a long history of domestic abuse; we still want to see him fight. We paid out so much money to see him fight, Mayweather will end up earning up to $200 million dollars. In my opinion, all of this is outrageous.