Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mayweather, Pacquiao and social responsibility

The Mayweather vs. Pacquiao match was the most anticipated fight in quite some time. Social media was ablaze with posts and hashtags about the event and the bets were set way before the two fighters met in the ring. The fight brought back memories of my own excitement of fights during my youth. Although a ferocious battle of wit and physical strength, boxing can get just about anyone talking.

Like most athletes, Mayweather and Pacquiao had plenty to benefit from the match. There's the hefty monetary win, of course, but they are watched and stalked just like most public figures. Aside from their star performance in the ring, they're also exposing their personal lives as well. Especially their relationships. Anyone knows that living in the public eye is tough. Every action and word is magnified globally with just a click of a link or a camera button. But those in the limelight are aware of this, and it's the risk they assume when they move up in the world.

Since they assume this risk, and place their reputations on the line, you would expect athletes to behave more responsibly than getting caught up in domestic violence charges or having their pictures taken with money carelessly strewn all around them. But they don't and it looks bad, very bad. Maybe living with fame is not easy, but you would expect athletes who have come from challenging backgrounds to want to live as ideal role models for their followers. Most of them don't though. And the level of fascination that the average American has for athletes is frightening, and very troubling. When you have young, impressionable followers watching your every move, you should feel a social responsibility to behave. What does it say to fans when athletes are abusing their wives or exploiting money as if it were a new, shiny toy to dispense with once it loses its luster? That it's okay to live so recklessly, that women are unworthy, and money is only as good as you spend it.

Is that to say then that if superstars can't live as role models then it is the public's responsibility to hold them accountable? Which might include not spending so much money on sports entertainment to keep the athletes under control. It would help get the message across that they're not any more invincible than the fans who adore them, that domestic violence is not okay, and that money management is important. When we continue to fund the dangerous and despicable behavior of some wayward athletes, we send out the message to those who don't know better that a little skill and fame gives you way too much leeway than they really deserve.

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