The Media vs. Pugilism – The Aftermath
By Rob Scott (September 10, 2005) 
Photo © Chris Farina, Top Rank
One of the truest sayings you’ll ever hear is ‘You can’t satisfy everyone’ – in writing there is no difference. In the aftermath of my last article, ‘The Media vs. Pugilism’, I received a great deal of feedback from readers voicing their opinions. While most were perceptive to the point I was attempting to make, there were some who put their gloves on and came out fighting. I was called an ABC organization apologist; I was called a Ring magazine and HBO hater; I was even accused of taking a pay-off. I felt, if left up to them, I would be placed up on a cross and crucified. To that I can’t help but say, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they say, and they definitely don’t know what the media does’.

I’ve always been one to allow words to just fly over my head as the belief of, ‘The only thing you get from arguing with a fool – are two fools’, has been a definite belief of mine. I took a pay-off was one of the funniest accusations levelled against me after my last article, and after this I’m pretty sure I’ll receive more of the same. While everyone plays the fool sometime, when it come to arguing over certain things, I just let some play that role all by their lonesome.

First off, I grew up reading Ring magazine and watching the many memorable fights on HBO and Showtime. The difference, I guess, between ‘The Joes’ and I is that I listen, but realize one shouldn’t believe everything that’s said. The overwhelming percentage of negative feedback came from that average everyday Joe. These are the people who only get their information from HBO and The Ring, then subsequently follow with a blind eye. With that blind eye, they allow the media mind tricks to sneak up, grab and control their psyche.

The insiders are fully aware of the pros and cons of this sport. I’d be the naive one to believe that there aren’t just as many cons as there are pros in boxing, but to only put the cons out there is a negative of huge proportion. The point of the article was to bring to light that in the quest of certain media to rid the sport of whom they perceive as the bad guys, they are actually damaging the sport as a whole. Overall it isn’t only a blow to the individual that they aim at, but it’s also a clichéd black eye to boxing itself. If you couple the opinions of the people who don’t see the artistry of the sport and think of it as just being barbaric with the opinions of those who feel the sport is filled with crooks in every nook, it gives off the sense that boxing is just an overall bad sport that doesn’t even deserve saving. I’ve heard these collective whispers and I believe they will inevitably turn into cries.

Who is bad? Who is good? Who can fight? Who can’t fight? Are these and other questions only able to be answered by outlets like HBO and The Ring? I think not. These are some of the areas that the media thinks they only have the right answers to. I without a doubt watch HBO, as they with the financial backing of the powerhouse, Time Warner, have put on great fights. That still shouldn’t make them corner the market on opinion.

The part that is lost with being so rich and powerful is they, along with some viewers, feel their words are the final ones that should be written in stone. The reality is it has come to the point that most people would just love to see the fights and just hear the roar of the crowd, and then come up with their own opinion. When you add the biased opinions of Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley, you have to admit, the overall telecast takes a hit. Believe me, it’s more than the reason of better fights as to why Showtime has gotten the edge this year.

HBO would do well to put up one of the pre-fight notes saying, ‘the views expressed by these commentators are their own, and not those of this network’. We won’t see that though. Why? Because the network believes their words wholeheartedly and it’s them who send out Merchant as if he is rabid dog; attacking anyone from Don King to the Organizations – and everyone who doesn’t believe what they believes.

Listen, people like Merchant and Lampley may think the pictures they paint of themselves are like those of Leonardo DaVinci and Pablo Picasso, but they have on more than one occasion depicted themselves to be artists of the B.S. kind. I hope HBO doesn’t remain like that of a Vincent Van Gogh and the network eventually fixes their ear and listens; as show-after-show they continue to trample on professionalism.

Hey, who knows? Much of the media may legitimately see themselves in the role of superhero and want to shout, ‘Here I come to save the day’, but little do they know that they are in essence contributing to making boxing’s days numbered as a viable sport with their uneven reporting.

The reality is, there can and should be more positive written evaluations of boxing. There can and should be more positive televised evaluations of boxing. Boxing can and should be shown in a brighter light than the dimmed one that barely shines in the media. Overall they should see, it’s not going to be about the media hurting the promoters. It’s not going to be about the media hurting the organizations. Realistically, it’s going to be about The Media vs. Pugilism – and they can’t even see it.
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