'The Fight of the Century' and our deluded society

Sports
by Barnabas Piper

Posted on Friday, May 8, 2015, at 10:48 am

You may have missed it, but “The Fight of the Century” happened last Saturday night when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather squared off in a much-anticipated boxing match. If you did miss the fight, don’t worry; it was more like “The Fight of the Month” (although a few NHL enforcers might beg to differ). That disparity between hype and reality indicates something worrisome: We are a deluded people and content to be so.

Stop me if you’ve heard of any of the following: Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns, Arturo Gatti vs. Mickey Ward, “The Rumble in the Jungle,” “The Thrilla in Manila,” Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sonny Liston, George Foreman, Joe Louis, or Jack Dempsey. Each of them is a fight or fighter from the past century, and each could make a compelling case for a “of the century” boxing label. But what does reality matter when we have the hype of this past weekend’s fight?

We have lost all sense of history, of perspective. We label things “the greatest ever,” when by “ever” we actually mean “today.” We call something the best “of the century” and forget that a century is 100 amazing years. And of course we never go back to evaluate our superlative statements to see if they were true. History doesn’t matter and we forget the present as soon as it is past.

Delusions are not limited to historical perspective; they extend to our love of hating. We adore the act of abhorring. Floyd Mayweather is not a good or kind man. He has multiple counts of domestic abuse on his record. He is arrogant and brash. He is the kind of guy who is very easy to root against. But what happened leading up to last week’s fight was not rooting against but an outpouring of noxious hatred. Across social media people judged, name-called, and harassed. They lost themselves in the anonymity and distance of the virtual space and forgot even basic human decency. The power and pleasure of disdaining another human overtook them.

The flip side of this hatred is the actions that fuel it. Mayweather offered another flavor of delusion when he and his public relations (or, rather, lack of relations) team let their power go to their heads. Upon arriving at the match, multiple female journalists found their press credentials pulled. Why? Because these reporters had previously written or spoken out against Mayweather’s mistreatment of women. In an effort to prove a point, Mayweather instead proved his own disrespect for others and inflated sense of self. That’s what happens when one becomes enamored with oneself.

The fight itself was hardly notable, but the spectacle surrounding it was unsettling to say the least. It served as a microcosm of much that’s wrong with society. We are a deluded people, ungrounded, reactionary, and self-absorbed. Christians should be disturbed. We are called to be loving, wise, and discerning, and events like “The Fight of the Century” exhibit why it’s so important for us to be so. 

Barnabas Piper

Barnabas works for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity and Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith. He and his wife live in the Nashville area with their two daughters. Follow Barnabas on Twitter @BarnabasPiper.

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