Friday, February 23, 2007

The Circus is in Town, Y'all

One of the bennies of working as a sports reporter is that you get to go to the pre-whatever news conferences. This week I went to the Oscar de la Hoya - Floyd Mayweather, Junior fiasco at Union Station in Washington.

My editor wanted me to shoot still photos while he did video and I also recorded the audio. It was a hoot. People taking time out of the middle of their day to watch these two guys jaw at one another. Of course it's all crap until May 5th, when they actually fight.

My wife thinks boxing is stupid. She says she cannot understand why two men would want to get into a ring and smack the snot out of one another.

I could have gotten philosophical about it - and I did a little. It's controlled violence. There are rules, and there is a referee who makes sure you follow the rules.

Real violence is not like that.

Real violence is unpredictable, like an IED in Baghdad or a drive-by shooting in Southeast DC. Real violence leaves you feeling helpless or vengeful or angry. Boxing always has the possiblity of a rematch. Maybe you can get another shot at this guy. Real violence seldom allows that.

It's like the widowed Army wife I heard on the radio yesterday. She and her husband met at West Point and were married after graduation. He was killed in Iraq last year by some unseen explosive device. She said she never needs to know when it's the 18th of the month (the day he was killed) because she can feel it. And she has a child to raise.

One could say "they both knew death was a part of their business," or something like that. True. But that doesn't make it any easier.

At this "The World Awaits" tour people lined up and stayed in line for hours to get an autograph from one of the fighters. A colleague of mine even got Floyd Mayweather to sign one of the flags they were handing out.

Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya will both make tens of millions of dollars for their efforts. According to the Army website an officer with about five years of experience will make around 62 thousand dollars a year. Or he could get shot and never come home.

But nobody pays to watch the Army (or Navy or Air Force or Marines) do their job. Maybe we should.

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