- Separating the Athlete from the Person-
By Delano Burnett
It seems like there is a lot of hating going on when it comes to Floyd “Money” Mayweather. So many people out here spewing pure HATE in the champ’s direction; from your average fans via social media to the media pundits on both TV and radio. The theme is a common one: “Everybody Hates Floyd.”
Ok, so the fight versus Pacman didn’t provide the action people wanted; but, Mayweather once again showed why he’s the best Boxer in the game today. Hate him or love him, he is the best pure Boxer of this generation hands down. When it comes to people hating on Floyd Mayweather as a person, there are things people need to understand about athletes in general.
Let’s talk about team sports for a second. Throughout the history of sports there have been a slew of athletes who, on a personal level, weren’t regarded as the best “people”. Everyone from Kobe Bryant, to Lawrence Taylor, to Pete Rose, and list goes on…were not viewed as the best “people” from a moral or character point-of-view. However, they were the best at their respective athletic professions. When it comes to succeeding in sports at a high level, you have to possess a certain confidence and even arrogance that will sometimes bleed over into your day to day interaction with people.
To this day my friends and I still argue among ourselves about whose better at what sport, who can bench the most, etc. It’s that arrogance, that competitive fire that many people will easily mistake as you being an “a-hole” or a bad person. So if my friends and I are doing this at our minor level of competitive sports, think about a pro athlete who has made it to the pinnacle of their craft. The arrogance of that particular athlete is going to be off the charts! As fans, we have to do a better job of separating the athlete and the person.
Now think about boxers. As a boxer, you are totally dependent on yourself in that ring, there are no teammates, no real coaches (outside of your trainer and cut-man). You are literally on your own in the ring going against an opponent who is trying to knock your head clean off. To be a boxer, you have to be wired a little differently than the average person. Think about the fights outside of the ring that most boxers probably endured before they even thought about becoming a boxer. If you grew up fighting and you end up being really good at what you do, there’s going to be an arrogance about you that’s probably abnormal. The thing is, you have to be that way to survive in a sport as brutal as boxing.
Boxing has produced some very dislikable people, e.g. Sonny Liston, Mike Tyson, George Forman (pre-his “Forman Grill” days) and Bernard Hopkins (pre- his “getting older” days lol). Now, as far as Mayweather’s public image, of course he has brought some of this on himself via his carefully orchestrated marketing persona “Money” as well as his documented run-ins with the law. With public outcry about domestic violence at an all-time high, Mayweather’s past has been brought back into play. He’s been charged four times with domestic violence, having been convicted and sentenced to serve jail-time once as a result. Of course this is going to bring a lot of deserved hate in his direction, especially from women, which is to be expected.
Also, Mayweather flaunts his wealth any chance he gets and doing this with a lot of Americans suffering through unemployment, is not going to be viewed as a positive in the eyes of the American public. Again, this is understandable. That being said, fans still have to understand the separation between the entertainer and the person when looking at athletes, particularly boxers. They are in a sport where they have to depend on promoters to get the word out about them and these promoters, for the most part, are taking their fair share of the Boxer’s purse. It was reported by the Mayweather camp that Manny Pacquiao received around $30 million dollars of the $80 million he made the night of the fight. This is where the genius of the Mayweather camp comes into play. Promoting his own fights not only ensures he receives the majority of the total purse, but he also takes home the lion’s share of his winnings.
In sports, especially combat sports, it helps sell the product if you have a “good guy versus bad guy” scenario. Obviously, Mayweather adopted the role of a bad guy and financially he’s proven to be incredibly successful. No matter how much people complain about his fights being boring, millions of fans are still tuning into watch. He’s found a formula that has helped him become the highest paid athlete across ALL sports. In spite of all the criticism about Mayweather’s upcoming fight against Andre Berto, when these two step into the ring on Saturday night, people across the world will tune in to see if Mayweather can achieve that magical 49-0 record.
At the end of the day, Mayweather is just doing what a boxer does in terms of playing the villain in a sport that almost requires you to be a little crazy. In fact, he’s created a masterful blueprint for other fighters to follow. Instead of hating him for his “Money” persona, we all should take a minute to ponder the following: are we watching Mayweather because we are fans of the sport of boxing or do we just want to see him lose?