Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Down (and out) in the sixth...
Why did I waste my Saturday night watching the Mike Tyson fight? But for the Layla Ali undercard, and the guts shown by both Ali and her opponent (and the chance to glimpse my all-time sports hero, Muhammad Ali, even in his present condition), the night was a total disappointment. Yeah, I know I shouldn't have been surprised that Tyson, who has never shown great character, would sink onto the mat and then retire -- literally -- to his corner, midway through the sixth round, and summarily decide that he no longer loves the sport of boxing, and wants to quit (the fight and the game), right then and there.

Funny Iron Mike didn't that epiphany the day he signed that $5 million contract to fight an eight-round bout against a jolly green unknown Irish giant named Kevin McBride. Funny he didn't have that epiphany before stepping into the ring and wasting the time of not only a packed house in Washington D.C., but all the viewers who plunked down their hard-earned money to watch the onetime heavyweight champion become the heavyweight chump of all time.

The Tyson disaster says terrible things about the boxer, who tore off any shred of dignity long ago, between his brushes with the law (I was one of those who felt he got a raw deal on the rape charge -- a 2 a.m. visit to a hotel room is a booty call, no matter how you slice it...) and his nips at the bodyparts of his opponents (I saw that Holyfield fight -- the holier-than-thou boxer with fifty-'leven kids was head butting, period), to his inability to hold onto a dollar (thanks a lot, Don King). But if you ever doubted that the legendary Cus D'Amato forgot to instill character in the young man he trained into a killer boxer, you got your evidence Saturday night. Tyson, faced with the choice of fighting it through to the eighth round like a man, and losing on a decision if he had to (he might not have lost at all -- Tyson clearly was ahead on points before McBride turned it on in the sixth), or dropping out and taking the money, chose to take the money and run. (Even before taking his dive, Tyson resorted to the kinds of tactics that have lost him the respect of most of the boxing world -- head butting, arm twisting, and curiously, nipping at his own boxing gloves like a teething toddler...)

The fight was even more disappointing because it was not atypical of what professional sports has become -- a dash for cash in which there is no loyalty, team jumping and ring chasing is the norm (right, Alonzo Mourning?), retiring with the team that made you is quaint and old-fashioned (right Patrick Ewing?), as is sacrificing for the team (the way Michael Jordan did in giving up some of the money he could have made in order to make things right for Scottie Pippen), and rookies don't have to prove jack squat before they start making big people money.

"Take the money and run" isn't just Mike Tyson's motto, it's emblematic of almost all of professional sports. Throwing in the towel when the going gets tough isn't even considered shameful anymore. After all, the people who bought the tickets to watch professional sports are the suckers. Who told them to spend their paychecks watching grown men beat each other up or toss a ball around? Besides, we suckers can't get our money back.
posted by JReid @ 8:07 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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