By Kylie Krabbe
There are a lot of boxing journalists whom I respect that have been asking female journalists such as myself to hold forth on the whole Floyd Mayweather, Jr./Ray Rice/Adrian Peterson domestic abuse issue. Very interesting that only now it’s critical to turn up our proverbial “girl” mic when the subject is as delightful as discussing that no matter how smart you are, or what accolades you possess, a whole gender that you cover on a daily basis can crush you or someone similar to you like a bug with relative impunity. I feel a little bit like how I felt in grade school whenever the teacher would start discussing slavery. Like, oh crap – as one of the few or the only live persons of African descent in the room, I’d better look busy and more invested than most because ready or not, I would be called on to represent. Don’t ruin it by bitching to yourself about the fact that it’s the very thing that you’d rather not represent. So what if you think that you are mad interesting on many other topics – beggars can’t be choosy when it comes to the spotlight. After all, you could be up on homecoming stage having a bucket of cow blood tipped over your head like in that movie, CARRIE. So don’t mess this up.
Okay – I’ll genuinely try not mess it up. But I’ll admit I’m a bit ambivalent about the whole homework assignment courtesy of Big Brother. Why? Take it back again to my adversary slavery. Back in grade school, I knew in my heart that truly you didn’t have to have a genetic horse in the race to know that slavery was wrong – no pun intended. If you don’t understand this concept you are probably one of those people who doesn’t believe in the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide – and in that case, this article probably isn’t for you. The way slavery was explained back then, neglecting to mention that it still exists on an international all inclusive level indiscriminate of race, gender and religion, was a sadly missed opportunity for all of us to feel like crap. Let’s face it – sometimes, it’s important to feel like crap, because calling inequity what it is in all of it’s current and past incarnations brings the true nature of the lesson home to all as something to guard and fight against versus a historical relic to remember just long enough to pass next week’s pop quiz.
I guess with the current attention domestic violence seems to have in sports today along with Floyd Mayweather’s unerring ability to put his foot in his mouth, I feel some nasty déjà vu in being asked to comment specifically as a “lady journalist”. I don’t think that you have to be a woman to know some pretty basic things that everyone seems to already be saying but that apparently many would prefer to hear in soprano versus bass. Maybe it’s even a bit ridiculous verging on sinister that someone would want my opinion on this first and foremost because I am a woman. Does it follow then that by giving in and responding to it, I am feeding the beast that causes the whole domestic violence, second-class citizen stereotype? Hell no. This is boxing. Bring the battle, we answer with the fight ‘cause that’s what we do – old school.
So in keeping with that sentiment, let’s get out of the way saying all the things that some people would like to get credit for asking their women friends to say/write/answer:
No matter how talented Floyd Mayweather, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are, domestic abuse of any sort is indefensible and untenable. Rice and Peterson should be punished for their bad conduct off the field – and that is happening with no small amount of controversy due to who knew what when in the NFL. In addition, Mayweather has been a regular perpetrator of domestic violence in the past, paying once with jail time by serving two months of a 90 day sentence. One could argue that his time served for one of seven incidents against at least four different women effectively served as professional punishment as while he was in jail, he could not fight – except that you would be wrong. In 2012, Mayweather’s sentence was delayed so Floyd could appear as scheduled in one of his bigger “Money” fights against superstar Miguel Cotto. It was a good night for Mayweather as he beat Cotto to the tune of $40 million. So maybe boxing, like the NFL should have done more in institutional reprimand by fining Mayweather or temporarily suspending his license. Not a bad idea, but that ship sailed without a whole lot of journalistic debate, coverage or uproar in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2012 or the other times he was arrested and/or cited. So considering the relative lack of concentrated criticism at the time directed towards professional boxing as a sanctioning body or leveled at Mayweather himself, perhaps we are all just a tad Johnny come lately with the ratcheted level of outrage now.
On Jim Lampley’s self-titled HBO show THE FIGHT GAME WITH JIM LAMPLEY, Lampley asks new female correspondent, ESPN’s Michelle Beadle about her opinion of Mayweather and his dismissive comments on Rice’s actions in the now infamous video of Rice knocking out his then fiancé and now wife Janay Palmer. As to be expected, Beadle is not down with Team Money. Putting the cherry on top of the whole public shaming, Lampley follows in his closing monologue by going so far as to say that due to his actions outside of the ring, Mayweather’s retirement “cannot come a moment too soon” for the “betterment of boxing’s image”. Harsh words considering nobody said it in the aftermath of Mayweather’s seven separate physical assaults. Harsher still when you consider that Mayweather’s disturbing philosophical tendencies and actions haven’t ever before been this roundly rejected as a reason not to allow him to perform professionally. It’s just now when it’s fashionable that Mayweather pays his pound of flesh not really even for his physical bad acts but mostly for his off color statements on the actions of another athlete.
Don’t worry. I’m not defending Mayweather or letting him off the hook. On the contrary, Mayweather, Rice and Peterson are fully grown culpable men. They can fend for themselves. However, for us as journalists, both men and women, having had full knowledge of Mayweather’s past outside of the ring and only loudly commenting on it now, doesn’t that make us all equally if not more complicit in creating the morally murky universe where these types of crimes can flourish in the shadows of high performance, money and fame?
It’s a lot like Chris Rock in his comedic monologue “ I LOVE RAP MUSIC”. In this monologue Rock declares his long lasting love of Rap Music (insert professional boxing here) but shares that lately it is much more misogynistic and difficult to defend. He knows he’s wrong to defend it, but at least he admits his part in the bargain as more than just an innocent bystander:
CHRIS ROCK: “… in the old days, it was easy to defend rap music. It was easy to defend it on an intellectual level…but it’s hard to defend this… My favorite song right now is impossible to defend. It’s impossible! We should all be ashamed of ourselves for liking this… song… you know this….”
Rock goes on to explain incredulously that everyone, including himself and the women in the club are willing to overlook the message of the lyrics of our “favorite song” (insert Floyd Mayweather, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Hope Solo…what have you) in order to enjoy the beat:
CHRIS ROCK: “And you know what’s real wild?…. you’ll see girls dancing to that shit! Loving it!… that’s why people always say rap music is misogynistic and degrading to women… if the beat’s alright, she will dance all night…I see girls on the floor dancing to the nastiest shit ever made…And you know what’s wild? If you mention to a woman that the song is disgusting and misogynistic they all give you the same answer:
“ He ain’t talking about me!”…
“ He said your name!”
“No he didn’t.”
Naturally, Floyd Mayweather is the song, and up until now, we journalists to a letter have been that “girl in the club” bouncing to his beat and others in the ring, on the football field and the soccer field. So we’ve all got a lot of explaining to do. It’s only sitting here now with egg on our faces that we are Monday Morning Quarterbacking (no pun intended) with these “revelations” that Mayweather via his actions outside of the ring has been a disgrace to the sport of boxing. Maybe we have been the disgrace too – helping him with our silence up until now. So let’s fix that error in all it’s forms, which aren’t all male or African American.
Enter U.S. Women’s professional soccer player Hope Solo, considered one of the best goalies in the world. In June of this year, it came to light that Solo had been arrested for domestic abuse against her half sister and a nephew at a family gathering. Has the League fined her or barred her from playing any games? No. If anything, they have been curiously silent on the whole issue until just as recently as this Monday, September 19th. In that statement they didn’t say much pertaining directly to Solo other than that they don’t condone domestic abuse. In another interesting show of different strokes for different folks, Solo’s sponsor NIKE, who dropped Adrian Peterson based on his charges have issued no statement on Solo. Why is Solo being handled so differently from her male counterparts? Does the fact that Solo is Caucasian – also setting her apart from Mayweather, Rice and Peterson, have any bearing on the relative immunity that she is enjoying? At the very least, it begs the question, doesn’t it?
If we as a society are pulling up Mayweather, Rice, Peterson and even recently NFL Super Bowl nixed African Bahamian music star Rihanna as those who will to be given the cold shoulder of suspension (which in the case of Rihanna is unwarranted collateral damage as she was a victim of abuse and not a perpetrator) and or public ire, I think we should all take a hard look at what makes one offender different from another and more suspendable or fine worthy. Should we ask some female, person of color, sports journalist just what her view is on the whole matter? No worries – I got it covered.