. . . Monday March 7, 2005

Be Hit and Hit Back

When they asked him who was responsible
For the death of Du Koo Kim
He said, “Some one should have stopped the fight
And told me it was him.”
They made hypocrite judgements after the fact
But the name of the game is be hit and hit back

Warren Zevon, Boom Boom Mancini

I must admit that boxing is one of my guilty pleasures. The fact that I use the word pleasure to describe the sensation should make pretty it obvious that I’m talking about experiencing boxing as a spectator, not a participant.

For many years, I would watch boxing matches with “a friend” who had one of those cable descramblers that enabled “him” to watch every channel for free. This helped me on the guilt issue. I could enjoy the sport without feeling bad for contributing my own money to a sport that involves two people attempting to give each other brain damage.

Here is an interesting article on the way boxing is portrayed in movies and literature. Even on those rare occasions when the sport’s brutality is clearly depicted, the upside of the sweet science is held in even higher esteem. I often wonder if the hero worship we give to Ali isn’t in part due to the fact that we feel guilty for having gotten so much enjoyment out of watching many of the champ’s faculties beaten out of him.

All the standing ovations in the world aren’t going to change the reality of what boxing did to Ali and so many, many more who were far from being The Greatest.

Of course, boxing isn’t the only sport that brutalizes the bodies of its participants. Stand on a sideline of an NFL game (and check the average life expectancy of an NFL alumnus while you’re at it) and you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that the collisions may not be all that good for those who play.

I’m not sure there is a good remedy to deal with the violence in boxing and other sports. But I would like, at the very least, to see pro boxing adopt the use of larger and more padded gloves and yes, head-gear.

Will that make the sport less exciting for the viewer? Yeah, it will. And using condoms in adult movies has the same impact. But the upside (a more healthy future for the participants) far outweighs the downside.

And who knows, if they made boxing a little safer for the boxers, my “friend” may actually be willing to pay to watch the matches.

Concentration is important!