Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fixing Boxing

Long term readers know that my favorite sport to watch is boxing.  When everything goes according to Hoyle, or rather Marquess of Queensberry, boxing is man versus man, and the better man wins.  There's no blaming the wide receiver, point guard, or pitcher.  If Fighter A wins,  Fighter A wins.  If Fighter A loses, Fighter A loses.  Of course, this ideal doesn't take "sloppy" judging and officiating into account, but that's a problem of execution, not design.  Nevertheless, when everyone executes their role correctly/honestly, boxing is an exciting sport to watch.

The real problem with boxing is an issue I've addressed before. Professional boxing is made up of multiple weight classes, some with more than one name, and different sanctioning bodies recognize different champions for each weight class.

Table of current boxing championship belt holders as of: 12/07/2014
Subject: Table of current boxing championship belt holders as of: 12/07/2014 | Source: BBC Sports

It's a mess.  Andre Ward and Carl Froch share a Super-middleweight title,  Scott Quigg and Guillermo Rigondeaux share a Super-bantamweight belt, and Floyd Mayweather holds titles in more than one weight class, which is SUPPOSED TO BE illegal.  This hodge podge doesn't even take each sanctioning bodies' interim champions, silver champions, emeritus champions, or diamond champions, for each weight class, into account.  Once we count those, each weight can have as many as twenty "champions."

When a weight class has twenty champions, it has no champion.  Belts and championships have become meaningless in boxing.

During the fabulous days of yester-year, there were eight weight classes...,
  • Flyweight: 8 st (50,802 Kg / 112 lbs)
  • Bantamweight: 8 st 6 lbs (53,525 kg / 118 lbs)
  • Featherweight: 9 st (57,153 kg / 126 lbs)
  • Lightweight: 9 st 9 lbs (61,235 kg / 135 lbs)
  • Welterweight: 10½ st (66,678 kg / 147 lbs)
  • Middleweight: 11 st 6 lbs (72,574 kg / 160 lbs)
  • Light Heavyweight: 12½ st (79,378 kg / 175 lbs)
  • Heavyweight: (unlimited)
...and one champion per weight class.  Fans knew who "the champ" was, and people could root for, or against, the guy.  Today, if a fighter has a big name, and a decent management team, they can have a  belt.  If a boxer has enough pull, and a belt isn't available, a sanctioning body will commission a new title for him.  Heck, if I put my mind to it, I could probably obtain a 147 lb title.

People point to this title soup and laugh at boxing, and justifiably so.  Boxing's credibility is going to remain in the dumper until it fixes itself and establishes a clear hierarchy for each weight class.

As I see it, there are two possible ways boxing can be fixed, and by "fixed," I don't mean paying off a judge or having Bubba take a dive.  I mean, there are two ways to solve the problem.

The first way is for fans to latch onto one sanctioning body as THE sanctioning body, and ignore the other three.  If people only went to IBF sanctioned fights, for example, promoters would only schedule IBF sanctioned fights, and the other three sanctioning bodies would dry up.

This tactic has worked for other sports.  The United States Football League (USFL) played three seasons, from 1983 to 1985, before surrendering to the realization that fans don't want to watch football in the spring & summer. Similarly, the American Basketball Association (ABA) ceased to exist when the NBA swallowed them up in 1976.   Sports leagues/bodies collapse when fans don't support them.

Unfortunately, the fan solution won't happen in boxing, because there's no clear cut reason to support one sanctioning body over the others.  Without that distinction, fans won't care enough to boycott big fights in order to bankrupt sanctioning bodies.

My other solution is a Superman type solution.  Essentially, for this solution to work a Donald Trump or Bill Gates level benefactor would need to swoop in, buy controlling interest in all four sanctioning bodies, and merge them into a single sanctioning body.  This solution would have the added benefit of allowing our hero to restructure the weight classes in a way that makes sense.

Unfortunately, people would call such a forced merger a monopoly, and they'd be crying, "restraint of trade."  I can't picture a philanthropist who cares enough about boxing to adopt such a headache.

In a nutshell, both solutions are incredible long shots, neither of which will realistically occur.  Until networks stop treating every fight as the finale of a Rocky movie, by having a belt be at stake, die hard boxing fans are going to be stuck following a sport the rest of the world thinks of as a joke.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Big Questions

Faith/Science Comparison
Subject: Faith/Science Comparison | Source: Lani Kai Akers' Facebook Feed |

This morning a friend of mine posted this cartoon on Facebook.  It's a humorous attempt to point out the fallacy of religious thought and promote the value of scientific thought.  The graphic got me thinking about the age old debate.  Rigid scientists tend to label the devout as being ignorant and superstitious, while some religious zealots think of scientists as heretics.

I've wrestled with the question of science versus faith for years, decades even.  After much reflection, I don't think it has to be an either/or kind of thing. As I see it, science tries to explain HOW the universe works, and faith tries to explain WHY. They're different approaches to different questions.

Science can; tell us how atoms react, map the functions of the human body, and let us see galaxies light years away.  Faith, on the other hand, can answer the moral questions and put our existence into some kind of perspective.

Now some people are about to call me a heretic, and other people are about to call me ignorant, but by my way of thinking, claiming we're here by the happenstance of a cosmic explosion is just as outlandish as not getting a child medical help in the hope God will cure him/her.  

Balance is necessary if truth is to be realized.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Beaverton oh Beaverton

When people think of poetry they typically think of soul stirring dramatic pieces by Frost, Poe, or Shakespeare.  However, poetry can also be tongue in cheek and silly.  In that vein, I rewrote Glen Campbell’s “Galveston” to fit my hometown, Beaverton.  Enjoy.
Interior of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall (formerly Beaverton Mall)
Subject: Interior of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall (formerly Beaverton Mall) | Date: 07/277/2011 | Photographer: Steve Morgan | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I still hear your cool winds blowing,
I still see her dark eyes glowing,
She was 21 when I left Beaverton.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I still hear your beer trucks crashing,
While I watch the perverts flashing,
I clean my gun and dream of Beaverton,
I still see her standing by the Starbucks,
Standing there watching phone app TV,
And is she waiting there for me,
At the mall where we used to run.
Beaverton oh Beaverton,
I am so afraid of dying,
Before I dry the tears she's crying,
Before I watch your small birds flying in the sun,
At Beaverton at Beaverton.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

50 Years Gone - Tomorrow Looms

Isaiah 56: 12 ~ “Come,” they say, “let me get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure.”

I came across this verse during my daily reading today, and it struck me.  At first glance,  it looks like the author is advocating drunken partying.  However, it’s actually about hope for the future.  The verse is basically saying, relax and enjoy the day, tomorrow will be just as great as today.

This is an attitude I’ve been lacking lately.  Fifty years ago, our country was in the middle of racial upheaval.  African Americans were sending society the message they would no longer tolerate being; banished to the back of the bus, shipped to separate schools, or denied the right to vote.

Photo courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

Their message was punctuated by the March 7th march on Selma.  600 angry citizens found themselves attacked by police for calling attention to America’s unequal distribution of civil rights.  The public’s reaction to the treatment of the marchers pressured law makers to address the civil rights issue and make reforms. 

In less than 2 months, history buffs and liberal activists are planning to converge on Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic protest. 

As airline tickets are being purchased and hotel reservations are being made, our nation again finds itself divided.  The Supreme Court has overturned key elements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Many cities have seen protests over court rulings regarding police officers' treatment of African American suspects.  A rift has even formed between New York’s mayor and police over the perception the mayor has sided with minorities over the NYPD.

With racial tensions as high as they are, what was scheduled to be a remembrance of a heroic stance, will undoubtedly become a tumultuous reflection of the currently churning storm.  While I’m all for the gathering taking place (I even have a good friend who’s making the trip), I find myself overcome with a sense of foreboding.  Once gathered, will a horde of well intentioned activists allow current events to fuel their emotions until riots ensue?

On one hand, I hope; cool heads prevail, no one gets hurt, no property is damaged, and intelligent people can peacefully make their voices heard.  Of course, the darker part of my soul recognizes that things may have to come to a head before they get better.