OPINION: Pacquiao's tough battle outside the the ring
Gerry Plaza on Feb 24, 2016 09:04 PM
Manny Pacquiao is learning it the hard way, receiving jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts not only from one opponent, but an entire legion of individuals he hurt deeply and extensively with his unfounded remarks.
He should have seen it coming, and the consequences of rapid verbal jabs of things he doesn’t know anything about, and just blindly, improperly basing his statements on alleged Bible passages, which he can’t even utter.
Manny Pacquiao should have learned one important lesson: words do matter. And it really impacts people universally, especially in this digital age of social media where a firestorm can easily spread in breakneck proportions.
If he grew up in a neighborhood where gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are maligned and scoffed, Manny should have cleared his prejudices and bigotry even from the very start of his sensational international boxing career or at least when he reached legendary status. Someone must have taught him something about this. But sadly, in the world of his own inner circle—an irritating posse even—no one would dare stand up against him, or even at least impart things that would be for his own good.
Now, Manny is learning it the hard way, receiving jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts not only from one opponent, but an entire legion of individuals he hurt deeply and extensively with his unfounded remarks. While at first he might have thought this issue would die down soon, and time would heal his wounds, just like any match he fought in the ring, here went the most painful punch of them all—him being dropped by Nike as an endorser.
In a statement, the leading sports shoe, garment and equipment brand said: “We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent. Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.” And came the last blow that surely caused a TKO: “We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
And this is Nike’s first major disavowal, as it even supported Tiger Woods during his infidelity episode.
This body slam, I’m sure, is something Manny could really feel, not only physically but emotionally. Not only because of a distinction or prestige lost, but of a sure steep drop in his earnings. And the worst realization is that it might just be the start of other similar moves from his endorsements, as his stature is receiving its worst blow ever, especially in social media.
And worse, it came when he is embarking on another high stakes fight against Timothy Bradley in April and of course the Philippine elections in May, in which he is running for senator. In both events, we are sure popular support will wane unless a major publicity effort is instigated to save his tattered reputation, which is a tall order.
What is there for Manny to do? He should totally own up to his mistakes and sincerely apologize not only in a social media post but also in a similar platform where it all started—a TV interview or monologue—and truly take back what he said about “no male-to-male or female-to-female” animal sexual activity, since it really is false, and make a profound, unequivocal statement that LGBTs are not “worse than animals.” By all means, he is entitled to his opinion against same-sex marriage, but he should respect the individuality of all people and by this retraction, he might at least get the people’s respect and affection once more.
This is what he can do at least to save himself amid public outcry and scrutiny, and educate himself as the sports icon he truly is—always put his whole mind in what he does and say.