We're at an intersection of entertainment (sports, primarily) and morality in this country, while we also grapple with the intersection of the beauty and curse of having instant access to countless opinions.¶ Both of those intersections collided with each other leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of Floyd Mayweather's victory by decision over Manny Pacquiao late Saturday.
Mayweather is undefeated in the ring but not in life. He has multiple criminal convictions for violence against women. The earliest of these infractions goes back more than a decade, demonstrating how long this has been a part of the Mayweather story.
How do you separate out that information, whether you're an avid boxing fan or simply curious about a fight hyped as much as this one, when it comes time for the main event?
My guess is that the old answer for the vast majority of viewers — even as recently as a few years ago — would have been to look the other way completely and adopt an "they're athletes, not choirboys" mentality.
Whether it was said and believed out of true conviction or mere convenience is debatable, but that was the prevailing sentiment. And it has changed — not 180 degrees, but enough to make athletes and leagues take notice.
It's hard to say if there was a defined tipping point; maybe it was the Ray Rice video footage confronting enough fans with images they could not ignore. Locally, perhaps it was learning some of the details in Adrian Peterson's child abuse case.
But there's no doubt that Mayweather's personal history was as front and center as his professional history leading up to Saturday's fight. And the sentiment was such that if you attempted to separate Mayweather the problematic person from Mayweather the near-flawless boxer, you ran the risk of being publicly shamed on social media.
Twins outfielder Torii Hunter found that out after tweeting support of Mayweather in the fight and later tweeting: "Don't let emotions clog ur judgement. What Mayweather does in the ring is business. What he does outside the ring has nothing to do with me."
The Twitter-bullying of Hunter for expressing that opinion — essentially that he was choosing to separate what Mayweather does in the ring from what happens outside the ring — was immediate and intense, so much so that Hunter later deleted the tweet.
Is it a good opinion? I don't agree with it and had little interest in the fight because of Mayweather, but I don't agree with Hunter taking such heat for it, either.
Because while Mayweather's life decisions are far more despicable than anything else mentioned here, the kind of selective and collective moral outrage that seeks to shame a person for choosing a different position is a dangerous thing as well.