Sports & Entertainment

Washington’s deafening silence on Floyd Mayweather

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Back in September, 12 House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demanding “the highest level of transparency” concerning how the league investigated the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Rice, then a running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on videotape hitting his then-fiancé, now wife, Janay Palmer. The video was graphic and alarming.

{mosads}The letter went on to say that domestic violence “unfortunately impacts every level of our society. … Our professional sports leagues are important economic and cultural institutions in the United States and we are interested in the manner in which these leagues handle incidents of domestic violence.”

No one will ever accuse politicians of missing the chance for a sound bite or the opportunity to grandstand, but the letter to Goodell was a strong and warranted response to the NFL’s mismanagement of domestic violence.

Despite this collective response last September, the silence from Congress and the White House in the lead-up to what many have dubbed the “Fight of the Century,” a boxing match this Saturday night between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, is deafening. The silence from all politicians, as it relates to Mayweather’s grotesque record of criminal violence against women, is inexcusable. Not a word, not a letter, not a comment on the record from the anyone in Washington condemning a man who can only be considered professional sports’ poster boy for domestic violence. A man who has never shown any remorse despite a plethora of domestic violence accusations, five separate domestic violence convictions and a 90-day jail sentence on his record. Apparently, every outlet in the world is inspired to sell this fight. Washington seems fine with propitiating the masses.

In the wake of the Rice incident, President Obama weighed in, saying that Rice’s situation should be a “wake-up call” to the NFL and other organizations, adding that the league had been “behind the curve” on domestic violence policies.

Not once has the White House gone on record about Mayweather’s past. Not once has the White House criticized, like it did the NFL, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for continuing to grant Mayweather licenses to fight. The NSAC, which is an agency of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, consists of five members, each of whom is appointed by Nevada’s governor for a three-year term. This political body, widely regarded as one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional athletic commissions in the country, has never suspended Mayweather despite, for example, the gruesome details from an incident in September 2010 in which Mayweather assaulted his ex-girlfriend in front of their two children.

Nevada routinely ranks as one of the states in the country with the highest number of domestic violence deaths. And yet the state’s biggest star and most recognizable figure, who often shares his serially misogynistic views in open forums, continues to fight with zero accountability. He will make upwards of $180 million from Saturday’s fight.

Where is the moral grandstanding from Congress? Why isn’t the White House scolding boxing, or the NSAC, or the governor of Nevada like it scolded the NFL and Goodell?

The presence of video footage in the case of Rice, and lack of visual proof in Mayweather’s case, is one explanation. We react more viscerally to something we see. Another explanation could be the lack of a centralized body in boxing to punish Mayweather. There’s no one to really scold other than Mayweather and, based on his repeated denials of guilt and his complete lack of compunction, he doesn’t care.

But the dilemma is stark. Domestic violence was an issue that impacted “every level of our society” back in September, but on the verge of arguably one of the biggest sporting events of the last decade, our elected officials won’t touch Mayweather or this event. The shock of it all is that Mayweather is low-hanging fruit. He’s an easy target. He’s a big, bright, neon sign screaming “domestic abuser.”

The money surrounding this fight is historic. The boxers, promoters, casinos, restaurants and retailers all stand to net record profits on one of the biggest single events to ever take place in Las Vegas. The problem is that it all feels dirty. It is tainted by a man who is paid to beat up other men in the ring, and should be held accountable for beating up women outside of it. Not one politician has stepped forward to say so.

Spatola is a West Point graduate and former captain in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports and SiriusXM radio.

Tags Boxers Boxing domestic abuse Domestic violence Floyd Mayweather House Judiciary Committee Janay Palmer Las Vegas Manny Pacquiao Nevada NFL Ray Rice Roger Goodell

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