I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: I’m a girl.
And I’m also a Mayweather fan.
Although I’ve been informed in polite (and not so polite) company that the two should be mutually exclusive. In fact, one might actually be surprised at the boorish nature of complete strangers who, when the subject of Mayweather is mentioned, feel it necessary to remind me of my link to Eve. (Trust me, my monthly caller and massive collection of paper and cotton absorbent products in my bathroom cabinet are all the reminder I need. Shoutout to all of my male readers!)
But still the ugly truth remains that to most, I shouldn’t appreciate Floyd Mayweather Jr. in any way. Not as an athlete, a person, and certainly not as a man. Because the crime that he committed against a woman is the most reprehensible one that a man can commit aside from rape-he beat her. Badly, from what I’ve read. In front of their children no less.
I’m not here to advocate on behalf of Floyd (not that he would need it, anyway), but I would like to discuss just how fatally flawed the “you can’t like Mayweather if you’re a girl” argument is. (The “I can like whoever I want, dammit” argument notwithstanding, of course. ) I feel it important to note at this point the obvious, which is that I’m more than capable of separating the actions of a man from the abilities of an athlete. Mayweather is the best at what he does at this time. He might not be the most interesting or exciting fighter, but he’s cornered the “hit and don’t be hit” market. The dude is a defensive genius, and he’s definitely mastered the mental chess aspect of the game. Love him or hate him (both acceptable) he’s the pound for pound greatest of his time until he retires and a more talented boxer comes along.
Now let’s deflect for a second here and turn our collective attentions to the NFL. It just so happens that a fortunate occurence, well, occurred in the middle of my writing this post. Namely, this meme popped up on my Facebook feed:
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a football fan as well. (College, that is.) As a matter of fact, I’m staying up way too late on game day to get this post published. But I think we can all agree that one need look no further than the NFL to find a rather large amalgamation of derelicts. For within that league exists a veritable potpurri of offenders: women beaters, kid beaters, dog beaters, rapists, murderers, and ball deflaters (like I could let that last one go.)
According to an article written by Tomas Barrabi, “NFL’s History of Domestic Violence Extends Beyond Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson Abuse Cases” (September, 2014), from the years spanning 1989-1994, 140 current and former professional or college football players were reported to police for violent acts against women. And lawd, let’s not forget O.J. After the O.J. arrest in 1994, another study examined criminal background checks on 500 players at random, showing that 21% of them had a record for a serious crime, prominently domestic violence (Barrabi, 2014).
Granted, 1994 was a loooooong time ago. But not much has changed since then. The same article posits that “Among the 713 arrests of NFL players from 2000-2014, 85 were related to domestic violence,” (Barrabi, 2014). (On a sidenote-713 arrests?! Holy shit! What are those boys doing?!) Regardless of your loyalty toward the sport, the statistics point to a very real problem within the league. And the NFL’s response? Basically,”we picked these guys up from impoverished hoods! What would you expect from them?” Huh. Can’t remember the last silver spoon sucking, born into wealth boxer that came across my screen. (Kidding, it was Chavez Jr!) But for real, most fighters come from seedy, money-challenged backgrounds, as boxing has always been hailed as a poor man’s sport because it’s one of the cheapest to engage in.
With all of this being said, why is it okay (encouraged, even) for women to appreciate professional football? Why are these women accepted and lauded while I, a self-proclaimed female Floyd fan, am basically told that I need to be better? After all, we buy the t-shirts and jerseys of men who have commited the same crimes, don’t we? So why is one accepted and the other not?
Oh, I know that Floyd is annoying. But so is Tom Brady with his perfect hair, Ray Rice with his Ray Rice-ness, Aaron Hernandez with his murder charge, and Michael Vick for being Michael Vick. (And don’t even get me started on Tim Tebow.) Just because one is louder and more obnoxious than the other doesn’t make his crime less equal.
Even more disturbing is that as of 2011, one in three women have experienced “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime,” (Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Merrick, Chen, & Stevens, 2011). Again, one in three. That’s a disturbingly small amount. In other words: if you have three sisters, three female family members, or three female friends in the same room, one of them has exprienced some form of domestic violence from someone that they trusted, be it a boyfriend, husband, or a hook up. If we as women are strong enough to look past our own hardships and are able separate the bad from the good from the not applicable in a man and still appreciate their talents, let us. Don’t tell us that we need to be better.
Indeed, for that we already are.
Facebook: Just look up “Junk in the Trunks”
Never though I’d need a reference section post grad school, but here it is:
Barrabi, Thomas (IBT Times.com, 2014). NFL’s History of Domestic Violence Extends Beyond Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson Abuse Cases. Retrieved from: http://www.ibtimes.com/nfls-history-domestic-violence-extends-beyond-ray-rice-adrian-peterson-abuse-cases-1692014.
Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J. & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control, and Prevention.