The reality missing in the Mayweather-McGregor hype
The hype began the moment terms were finalized for a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. And with more than two months to go before the two men actually meet in the ring (two of the slowest months of the sports calendar, it should be noted) you can be sure we're in for a whole lot more. This is the biggest sports gimmick since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs met in the Battle of the Sexes. Of course, that was about respect and equality for female athletes; this is a soulless money grab featuring one of the most flawed superstars in all of sports.
I can hear you now, shushing me for injecting the proceedings with a dose of reality. Well, somebody has to. While I've heard so many of my media brethren giddily planning their fight-night fun, I'm made ill by the thought of Mayweather yet again benefiting from a spineless Nevada State Athletic Commission and a country full of sports fans willing to value entertainment over morality. This man, who has a long history of violence against women, has never taken accountability for his transgressions or publicly announced any desire to get treatment.
If people are sensitive enough about the dangers of violence against women to wring their hands over the Bengals drafting Joe Mixon or Aroldis Chapman returning to the mound, then why turn a blind eye to Mayweather's rap sheet? "He served his time!" people say. "It's all in the past."
However, domestic violence experts I've spoken to say the two best signs that an abuser will be able to stop the cycle of violence is a willingness to take responsibility for their actions and a desire to change. Mayweather not only refuses to acknowledge the abuse, but he also engages in victim blaming, spouts misogyny and even revokes the access of some reporters who seek to shine a light on his crimes. Why suffer through the tough questions if you don't have to?
Let's set Mayweather's crimes aside for a moment. Even if your conscience will allow you to watch this fight, your brain shouldn't. Shine it up all you want, but this is just a technically sound-but-boring-to-watch, past-his-prime boxer coming out of yet another faux retirement to face an MMA fighter who's talented but more famous for his mouth than his skills and who isn't a professional boxer. It's nothing more than a marketing stunt disguised as athletic competition.
I'm shocked to see how many otherwise smart people are willing to get duped out of their money to watch a one-sided spectacle that doesn't even pretend to be a fair fight. Mayweather and McGregor are showmen who will no doubt provide plenty of verbal fireworks leading up to the match, but when the bell rings and the duel begins, I guarantee there won't be a single paying customer satisfied by the actual fight. And unlike the NFL or MLB, where your ticket purchase goes to a team or league, boxing pay-per-view dollars go to the fighters, who get a significant cut of the overall take.
Buy the fight and you'll not only be wasting your money on a flawed product, but you'll also forever know that you put money in the pocket of a man who has beaten and threatened to kill women.
When you're watching him pummel the inexperienced McGregor, do your best not to picture a woman in the ring with him, instead. A mother to his children, perhaps, being punched repeatedly in the back of the head. If you can actually make yourself see Mayweather using his years of training to terrorize women and you can still enjoy the fight, then you'll have to acknowledge that sports mean more to you than your humanity.