Sunday, May 3, 2015

Manny vs. Floyd – What a load of . . .

Today is the day of the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Now, I am a great lover of almost all things sport but I have to say I find the whole thing appalling.

First, the amounts of money involved are ridiculous. The two fighters will split $300m US which is around $400m NZ. Celebrities are competing for ringside seats which are going for $351,000 UD, not much under half a million dollars NZ. It is a just a load of celebrity nonsense with Rory McIlroy arranging his tee off at a professional tournament to be there, and a whole range of overly paid so-called celebs – including the likes of Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robert De Niro, Michael J. Fox, Will Smith and many others there. This, in a week when Nepal was devastated by an earthquake in which over 6000 people have died. I say, can the fight, take the money, and send it to Nepal.

Second, this is all to watch a boxing fight. I love sport, but boxing (and other head attacking sports) is nuts. It’s all about targeting the head and concussing the opponent for victory. At a time when we are seeing the long-term effects of concussive blows in American Football, rugby league, and union, we should know better. It is dumb dumb stuff and boxing should be banned. Neurological studies show that boxing causes significant brain damage (e.g. http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2013/3/27/4152414/study-shows-significant-effects-of-mma-and-boxing-on-the-human-brain). In recent years, the British, American, Canadian and Australian Medical Associations have all called for an end to boxing, citing the high risk of brain damage and other injuries. The American Academy of Pediatrics has described boxing as sport that is unsuitable for young athletes. The whole thing is ridiculous. Not to mention that people will be watching two old guys, ways past their best, continue to smash each others heads in. Better to watch another Sylvester Stalone load of nonsense. They are way more entertaining.

Third, there is the implicit sexism in the whole thing as every part of the build-up has women wandering around in their bikinis. Most men like watching women in bikinis but come on. Re-heally! 

Finally, the whole idea of Manny Pacquiao ‘fighting for Jesus’ is, to put it bluntly, wack. At the weigh in he had a shirt on with ‘Jesus is the name of the Lord’ on the front, and ‘all glory and honor belong to God’ on the back. He said when asked about the fight, ‘the Lord is always with me and strengthen me and will deliver him into my hands.’ Pacquiao is not the first to ‘fight for the Lord’ and expect Jesus to help him win in a boxing ring, but the theology behind such claims remains ridiculous.

Jesus was anti-fighting. He renounced violence. He said ‘turn the other cheek.’ We won’t see Manny doing this will we? No, he thinks Jesus cares and will help him beat up Floyd. Where do we find such thinking in the teaching of Jesus or the Apostles? We don’t.

He assumes a na├»ve flawed theology based on a pre-Christ understanding of ‘God on my side’ as I smash the opposition, a la David and Goliath. Yes, Jesus is the name of the Lord. Yes, all glory and honor to him. But no to ridiculous money on a ridiculous sport claiming his name for victory. I can’t see Jesus giving a hoot about who wins the fight, he will see it as a disgrace.

The Jesus of Scripture came from a poor Jewish family, sided with the poor, gave his life ministering to them and saving them, and then died a poor man on a cross. He didn’t engage in fighting. He didn’t take on Pilate or Tiberius Caesar in a one on one fight for the world. He didn’t challenge Satan at the temptation to a boxing fight for the universe. His people are never urged to go out and fight boxing fights. They are to gird themselves with God’s armor of the virtues of honesty, love, righteousness, mercy, and so on, and care for others in need. Like those in Nepal.

Jesus had little time for money, warning of its snare, and calling his disciples to live a radical life of generosity, dependence and definitely not wealth accumulation.

I know Manny rose from poverty, does a lot of good and I am not saying he is not a Christian, but I think he needs to spend some more time meditating on the story of the rich ruler and especially how a camel might squeeze through the eye of a needle. You can’t even get a small Filipino boxer through a needle’s eye. That requires a really good blender. Perhaps the fight might help the blending as Mayweather pounds him.

So, in sum, what a load of . . . I won’t be paying the $49.99 to watch the fight. I don’t care who wins. I think it is appalling.