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Monday, 19 September 2011

Does having the right make it right???

Another weekend of phenomenal sporting events down (RWC, some truly outstanding NRL playoffs, lots more premiership goals, and the NFL season moves into 2nd gear) - and the one that most are talking about is Money Mayweather’s latest (of albeit irregular) appearance.
Controversy follows this great boxer everywhere - from his trash talking, to his court cases, his brilliant fighting and his extravagant spending.
So no surprise that the Saturday night bout vs Victor Ortiz brought us not one but two more talking points....

For sure - the rules of boxing state that you must protect yourself at all times (surely a future internet acronym of use - PYAAT),  so Ortiz' attempts to delay, apologize, catch a breath were always going to be doomed to failure when confronted by a man hellbent on victory.  The majority of boxing aficionados see it as within Floyd’s right to take the shot.  He had the right, and he took it.  And with it came victory, and a knowledge that the $70m (amount Floyd can bank on a good night) can continue rolling.  
.....And Floyd was within his rights (though without full disclosure, we cannot be too sure how far within) to castigate screen interviewing legend Larry Merchant for pushing him on his performance, and for talking away from the brilliance of the performance (in Floyd’s mind) and onto matters less in keeping with what Floyd wanted to talk about.  So, Floyd had the right to insult Larry’s boxing knowledge (though you have to assume that his 30 years in the ring - as an interviewer - may qualify him as an expert), and he had the right to terminate the interview with the channel helping him make his millions.....
On both occasions - he had the right.
But in today’s fast paced world - is having the right to something enough anymore.  With sportsmen so more visible - and with so much more cultural power - is “it’s within my rights” justification for acting as you see fit.
Sports-stars have the ability to influence culture, to lead their followers, to drive human actions.  And if sports stars send the wrong message to their fans, then a negative cultural shift (surely what we are currently part of) away from goodwill, honor,  and respect will continue.
The right thing to do would have been to see that Ortiz was not defending himself, and (whilst ensuring his own defenses were up!) encourage Victor (and the ref) to ready themselves.  Floyd’s unshakeable self-belief, his undoubted huge talent, and the fact that he was winning anyway - would surely have seen a victory but we would have also seen a “win” for doing things the right way - a better lesson for our fans.
The right thing to do - when faced with unfriendly questioning was yes, to challenge Larry’s motives and methods - but to do it in a way that smacked of grace and understanding of both the situation (millions of impressionable folk watching) and of the impact his actions might take.
Floyd is a hugely powerful athlete - some say he is one of the two pillars holding the sport of boxing up (millions of fans in Europe, South America and Asia might disagree - but that’s for another day).  But he has huge power and huge sway over many whose opinions and actions he can affect.
Yes he had the right to act the way he did - but I hope he realizes soon that merely having the right doesn’t make it right.,

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