Over the past few weeks, comments from two sports have sparked unneeded controversy
By placing themselves in the forefront of two unforgiving topics of social discussion, they are precariously placed with some risks. Reputation is at stake, even their ability to sustain a fan base may have been tarnished. Their comments were worlds apart in difference, but they had similar effects: they added their opinion to a delicate mix, involving themselves in an unforgiving world.
Manny Pacquiao's comments labelling gay people "worse than animals" sparked uproar not only in his native country of the Philippines, where he is running for Senate, but also on a worldwide scale which will undoubtedly tarnish his career. Whether the comments were taken out of context or part of a political process, it's crossed over into the sport of boxing and he's paying the consequences.
Not only does it mean a massive hit to his stock, and perhaps finances in the grand scheme of things, but its a demonstration of just how important reputation means more than anything in sports endorsements. No matter what the boxer brought in while representing the company, the discriminative comments was strike one and out.
Pacman's statement also means that his retirement bout could be a box office bomb. The furore prompted by his words have cast a massive cloud over what is set to be his final ever fight, a trilogy match against Timothy Bradley. Even with weeks from the fight, cutting down to days, there was little talk about it, the disinterest was such that following Pacquiao's apologies not many were even chiming in on the debate.
Novak Djokovic also found himself in hot water by chiming in on the topic of gender equality in the context of his sport. The Serb questioned equal pay in tennis for men and women, implying that the males should be paid more as they bring in more spectators. Of course, the political and social standpoints of comments from himself and the boxing star cannot be compared and shouldn't really be commented on, it's just about the sporting effect.
To compare the comments is as futile as comparing the stars' sporting ability. Boxing and tennis operate in such different fundamentals; as do the comments of the athletes in discussion. But from throwing their hat in the ring, regardless of intent, they were thrown into an unforgiving world, leaving their neck out for the tabloid papers, and risking their value as sports stars - because they aren't just stars, the abilities and pop culture impacts warrant them to become more: icons. That added pressure makes all actions placed under a microscope of intense scrutiny.
Manny Pacquiao is in the final stage of his career; his comments will mean that he retires on a sour note. Novak Djokovic is still embracing being the best males' tennis player on the planet; and since his comments did not rile up as much anger - he can be grateful. If the line was pushed, his future would mean little.
|Image: FOX Sports|
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