Gays Buy Sneakers Too
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (May 17, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Rainbow Nikes
The recent firestorm caused by what Manny Pacquiao said (and ultimately didn't say in quoting scripture) regarding gay marriage brought to mind the famous quote of another iconic athlete associated with Nike. During his heyday, Michael Jordan was asked why he wouldn't give an endorsement to Harvey Gantt, a well-liked African-American who, at the time of his run for Senate against the ultra-conservative Jesse Helms, was the mayor of Charlotte. Jordan had starred at University of North Carolina and his support would've been instrumental for Gantt’s campaign.
Instead, ever the pitchman, “Air” Jordan stayed neutral, stating, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
Well, in that vein, I guess the “Pac-Man” figures that gays must not buy many pay-per-views. But in an ironic twist, while his fight against the relatively unknown Tim Bradley is a tough sell, suddenly, Pacquiao found himself a national story- even finding himself banned from The Grove in Los Angeles, a popular shopping center, when it prohibited Pacquiao from conducting an interview with Mario Lopez from “Extra”  (as someone who grew up in Montebello, I just want to state that Pacquiao is welcome any time at the Montebello Town Center- but I digress).
Perhaps Pacquiao would have been better off stating something along the lines of, “Hey, if gay people want to deal with the headaches I did last November with Jinkee, let them.” But it seems as though the biggest mistake he's made (whether you agree or disagree with his stance or not) is in taking a strong position on a heated debate in our country. Perhaps he had no other choice because unlike the apolitical Jordan- who seemingly never took a stand on anything that didn't take place on the basketball court- Pacquiao is the polar opposite. In fact, he has been a congressman in the Philippines for well over a year now. He's expected to take firm stances on these issues.
He is no longer just an athlete or boxer; he is now a man who is a legislator in his homeland and can influence public policy for his people. There's a reason why Floyd Mayweather (who jumped on the bandwagon by tweeting his endorsement for gay marriage on Wednesday) or any other pugilist isn't asked such questions. Seriously, while Sergio Martinez has taken up the cause of anti-bullying, do you care about his thoughts on how to balance the budget or create more jobs? Do we want to know Andre Ward's opinion on foreign policy?
No, because they are just prizefighters. They haven't tried to be anything else.
Pacquiao decided long ago he wanted to become a politician and while some may yearn for the separation of church and sport, maybe it simply isn't possible in this case. Personally, I've always felt his foray into the muddied waters of politics was a questionable one. I mean, think about it; even the most popular of politicians have at least 40 percent of their populace opposing them. Despite idolatry unmatched by any other in the Philippines, Pacquiao most likely falls under that same category. And his opinion is more than just that; in many ways, it's an ideology. Perhaps he opined so strongly on this particular issue because he was speaking to his constituents back home (who are largely Catholic and probably share the same views) with some good ol' fashioned pandering. Hey, it's what politicians do. But the problem was, he was broaching a subject based on American issues and statements made by the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama.
“[Pacquiao]'s entitled to his opinion, doesn't have to be my opinion, doesn't have to be anyone else's opinion. But he has an opinion and it's not a far-out opinion,” said his promoter Bob Arum, who's no stranger to politics as he once worked under the attorney general for the Kennedy administration before getting into this boxing racket. “About more than half of the people in the country are opposed to gay marriage. I mean, that's just the way it is. Other people have different views but if we're going to have intelligent dialogue about these issues, everybody is entitled to express their opinions.”
Well, maybe in theory, Pacquiao is but in an ironic twist, it seems that some people- such as the management at The Grove ( will only be tolerant if they agree with that particular opinion. Tolerance, it seems, can be a one-way street in these instances. You'll stand by my right to have an opinion- as long as it jibes with our own.
But be careful what you wish for. Manny wanted to be a politician and politicians will be asked to answer these sorts of questions. That said, according to Arum, there are no regrets on his part.
“No, he absolutely wanted to say this. He's absolutely opposed to gay marriage, period,” said the promoter, who needs all the help he can get in drumming up interest for his June 9th event in Las Vegas. “He's a Catholic; he's a practicing Catholic, an evangelical Catholic- whatever the hell that is- and this is his view. So he's not ashamed of that.”
Predictably, Martin Luther Mayweather tweeted that he was an advocate of gay marriage: “I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage,” adding a short time later, “I'm an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want.”
Uh, yeah, I guess he's “endorsing” gay marriage the way he once advocated against domestic abuse prior to his fight with Diego Corrales. It seems Manny and Floyd simply can't see eye-to-eye on anything. So I propose this, in lieu of them not facing each other inside the squared circle, I say we set up a presidential-style debate and have them discuss not only this issue but the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to create more jobs and the cost of gasoline.
I say Chris Matthews or Larry Merchant act as the moderator.
Here's an interesting background story on that Jordan/Helms to-do: is Bradley now the most popular boxer in the gay community? Ernest Gabion of Everlast quipped he's now the “Desert Rainbow”...The latest on Nonito Donaire is that he might be returning June 30th on HBO (and yeah, this has changed more than a few times). “That looks to be the case,” confirmed Arum, who says this card (with Brandon Rios in a possible co-feature if he doesn't land the bout with Juan Manuel Marquez on July 14th) might land at the Mandalay Bay...So Kim Kardashian's backside is the only one Skechers Shape-Ups shoes really helped?...Heaven help LeBron James if the Heat can't be the Pacers. It will be one long summer for him...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
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