If there’s one thing we love in America more than most places in the world it’s masculine athletes. Athletes, more specifically male athletes, are idolized even from young ages. We put them up on a pedestal because they are the epitome of what it is to be a man: strong and powerful.
If for some reason this past weekend you didn’t hear, the biggest boxing match of the decade occurred in Las Vegas between Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino professional boxer, and Floyd Mayweather, an undefeated world champion boxer from the U.S. The fight lasted 36 minutes and millions of people tuned in to watch at $99.95 a pop. An ESPN report found that room prices increased dramatically during the event. For example, a $190 room at the MGM Grand jumped to $705. In addition, CNN reported that the cheapest floor seats for the match were $28,080. Mayweather was declared the winner in the end and was paid $100 million, which is the single largest paycheck given to an athlete this year.
But why was Mayweather even allowed to compete?
Mayweather has been arrested or cited seven times for assault allegations since 2001. He has spent time in jail and been charged multiple times with battery and assault, but has still not been banned from boxing. We understand that he is undefeated and that his fighting brings in the big bucks, but is it really a good idea to let someone continue to fight inside of the ring when he can’t control his fighting outside of it?
Unfortunately this issue isn’t contained to this sport. Across the board, male athletes are charged with various accusations of misconduct, but continue to perform and make millions. In the case of Ray Rice, the former running back for the Baltimore Ravens was caught on camera hitting his wife in an elevator. When the media got ahold of the footage, Rice’s wife Janay expressed how the assault was wrongful but both were responsible. She essentially was covering Ray’s reputation so he could continue playing for the Ravens and receive paychecks.
The biggest issue at hand is that as a society we have consciously decided that money and power are more important than the safety and health of other human beings. Again and again situations like this are being swept under the rug in hopes of maintaining an image. But the number of them that come to light is still an alarmingly large one.
Many people, especially children, look up to these athletes. Furthering their careers with endorsements, sponsorships and huge contracts doesn’t address the problem of violence. It is perpetuating a vicious circle and diminishing the severity of the situation.
When Rice knocked out his wife in that elevator, the NFL attempted to cover it up. Mayweather is still allowed to compete even though he is a serial batterer. Why is this happening? When is the line going to be crossed so far that this won’t be tolerated anymore? How many more people are going to have to get hurt before too much is too much and we finally take some real measures to start preventing assaults like this from happening?
If you beat people and are charged with assault or any type of violent crime, you should not be able to compete. The youth of our country need role models that are powerful through their positive actions and healthy lifestyles, not violence. There is no justification for putting criminals in the ring or on the field.
So while we go about our normal lives athletes like Mayweather will go about theirs. The only difference is they have mansions, plethoras of expensive watches and cars and are still capable of winning millions of dollars despite brutal assaults.
How can we, as a society, ensure that justice still reaches the upper echelons of the sports realm? No doubt that public forum and bold voices will add to the conversation. Hopefully conversation will evolve into action over time.
The editorial board is composed of Dylan Green, Anna Jentoft, Stephanie Villiers and Brandon Stone.