13 March 2016

Bloodsport, Profits and Social Ethics

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, a professing Christian made disparaging comments about homosexuals. While correct, I find these public declarations are sometimes less than helpful.

Of course we might also point out the inherent problem with a professing Christian that makes his money (and a lot of it) as basically a gladiator. His commission in the Filipino army is also somewhat problematic at least from a New Testament perspective.

But what is really laughable is that Nike one of the most corrupt and criminal corporations in the world will now attempt to tread the moral high ground and call Pacquiao's views abhorrent. Nike's labour practices are little more than slavery and they have a long record of exploitation, pollution and thuggishness. Their profit margins are incredible as they charge obscene rates for their celebrity endorsed products made at pennies on the dollar. The fact that celebrities like Pacquiao also profit at the expense of others is also more than a little troubling.

Nike is a morally reprehensible company and this is exacerbated when you reflect on their role in the culture, they way they influence the youth and the role of sports and sport celebrity in general. They are at the apex of a very morally dubious industry and paradigm.

This came up again with the recent Sharapova drug allegations. Of course we might have a larger discussion on doping, professional sports, the corrupting influence of money on both the athletes and the industry in general. Personally when you take in the whole industry and what's at stake... think as a lost person for a moment... why wouldn't these people take performance enhancing drugs? If life is but a quest for riches and glory and in the athletic world you have a limited age window to accomplish it, then it's no wonder. Also if you know others are doing it, games are often rigged, then why wouldn't you do all you can?

Integrity doesn't live very long in the moral vacuum that is the world. To be honest I don't think the public really cares that much about the drug use. I think the kerfuffle is more about legalities. Contracts have been signed. Rules are not the rules of back alley football game. These rules are tied to millions of dollars, no billions of dollars in profits. That money is invested in the economy, tied to municipal bonds, stocks and finance. That's why congress holds hearings. That's why it's a big deal when someone cheats. If the money wasn't there it wouldn't really matter... and it wouldn't be as likely to happen. Raising the stakes means raising the risk people are willing to take.

That's why they can't stop drug smugglers. The money, the potential profit is so great that there will always be people willing to take the risk.

In our present ethical vortex it's okay to be a company that literally causes death in other parts of the world... but don't you dare speak out against homosexuality.

Homosexuality is an abomination and yet I would argue that as Christians we need to completely re-think how we approach these folks and relate to them culturally. At this point everything has been politicised and so I feel like there's little that can be done. Jerry Falwell and now Manny Pacquiao, morally dubious people to begin with are the face of the Christian Church when it comes to issues like this. They (Falwell more than Pacquiao) represent political will and desire, a threat to those who don't agree. Well, the tables have been turned on them haven't they?

Where that leaves the Biblically faithful it's hard to say.

I know one thing. When I was in elementary and junior high we loved to play 'Smear the Queer' on the school lawn. I have a feeling they don't allow that to be played anymore... for several reasons. I hadn't' really thought about it but I'm sure Dodge Ball, Red Rover Red Rover and all those old games are now gone. If there was a bad element to those games it wasn't the rough and tumble but the violence that came in the form of anger and revenge. They didn't have to be that way and often weren't but there were those times when someone would get mean, get hurt and then there would be a lot of anger.

It's one thing to play as kids, something else to make your living from bloodsport. That's an ugly business indeed. I used to love it and I have many fond childhood memories of watching boxing with my father. He was a bit of a fanatic and was thrilled when he got to meet Muhammad Ali. And yet now as Christian I have a somewhat different perspective on these questions.