Boxing. As a fan, you try to focus on the good and ignore the bad. We know it's a brutal sport in which the athletes are exploited by corrupt sanctioning bodies and unscrupulous promoters; where the fans regularly overpay for dull fight cards with little in the way of undercards; and where the most important fights never happen due to meaningless rivalries between managers and television networks. But, you look past that. You look past it because, beneath the filth of the business lies the purity of the sport itself. Because there is something nonsensically beautiful about watching two men push themselves beyond every physical boundary, taking themselves to the very brink of death (and, sometimes, past it) all in the name of victory. Because it represents competition in its most basic form.
And right when you feel good about doing that, about having overlooked its faults and found the latent beauty beneath it all, something like this happens:
A ungrateful females deserve to be killed!!!!
— Adrien Broner (@AdrienBroner) June 15, 2013
That's Adrien Broner - the guy our Hamilton Nolan called the "next big thing in boxing" and the guy who calls himself "The Problem." In that instance only, it looks like Broner was right.
My first reaction to this story was disappointment and disgust in Broner's stupidity, but it is emblematic of a bigger issue. Violence against women, and commentary about violence against women, is tolerated by the sports-loving world in a way that no other group-based hostility would be. Had Broner said that ungrateful, I don't know, Jews, should be killed, there would be a huge uproar. Had a white athlete said that ungrateful blacks should be killed, he'd be drummed out of the sport. But the backlash against Broner is likely to be minimal. And that's downright bizarre when you consider that violence against women is far more prevelant in the world today than other examples of group-based violence. There is no reason that Adrien Broner should be allowed back on HBO, where Max Kellerman and Jim Lampley can coo about his talents and say nothing about his reprehensible statements, until there is definitive evidence that he has accepted that "the problem" is his attitude about women and taken steps to fix it.
Broner has often been likened to Floyd Mayweather, who last year spent time in jail for violence against a woman, and that was hardly the first time boxing has seen a top star jailed for that type of activity. Hopefully, the sport is finally ready to say, "enough."
UPDATE: James Foley, of Badlefthook.com, responds appropriately.
Adrien Broner's brain MRI looks clean pic.twitter.com/nDmuchhrpb
— James Foley (@therealFOL) June 15, 2013