Horrible ESPN Commentary

So, if you're a boxing fan and I assume you all are, don't watch this unless you actually enjoy getting mad.

The really egregious part begins around the 2:10 mark.

A few thoughts on this.

First, Colin Cowherd may be the perfect manifestation of everything that's wrong with American sports fandom today. He perfectly embodies the Brett Favre/Derek Jeter/Kobe-vs-Lebron/ESPN celebrity starf***er mentality, and he does it unashamed.

Second, we all know that boxing has a lot of problems in this day and age. The leaders of the sport need to do a better job at marketing, they need to get corruption out of the sport, etc. We all agree on that. But you know what? Even if boxing put its own house perfectly in order, it would have to contend with the fact that most American sports fans are just plain stupid. There are at least three intertwined strains of thinking in the mass culture that would present huge problems for boxing no matter what it did.

1. American sports fans only care about American athletes, and not only that, they are conditioned to assume that American athletes are always the best no matter what. If athletes in a sport appear to disprove that preconceived notion in proportions greater than those you see in, say, baseball, then American sports fans will either lose interest in the sport or assume there's something wrong with the sport. You can see this play out to a lesser degree in men's tennis. Even though this might be the greatest era in the entire history of that sport, the popularity of the sport in America is tepid at best. But at least men's tennis players tend to be European and speak English. What hope does a sport like boxing have with so many non-English speakers in its elite?

2. The Cotto-Pacquiao fight is a great ambassador for the sport. So are fights like Vazquez-Marquez (which SC wrote about recently), Marquez-Pacquiao, Cotto-Mosley, etc. But you know what? I am fully convinced that if you'd forced Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle to sit in front of a TV set for Marquez-Vazquez III, they would not have enjoyed it! When they complain about "small man" boxing being too "technical" in the above clip, they're not just saying they need offense and KOs in order to like the sport. What they want are haymakers like the ones you used to see in the Rocky movies. The casual American sports fan's attention span is too short to enjoy even the most technically proficient offense-oriented boxing.

3. Regarding the MMA-oriented comments in the clip: there is a class of serious MMA fan out there whose members are really knowledgeable about their sport and who are fans because they really appreciate the finer points of MMA and who don't see a need to take a dump on boxing. I take it that the people who post over at the sister SBN blog fit into that category. But they are outnumbered by hordes of brainless casual fans of MMA who have no appreciation for the intricacies of MMA and who only prefer MMA to boxing because MMA is "in" and boxing is "out" or because MMA is "cool" and boxing is "uncool." It's no different than the mentality of middle school kids who sneer at their classmates who wear the wrong brands of clothes. These are the same people who probably still think that Kimbo Slice is the Tiger Woods of MMA because of stuff they vaguely recall hearing around the water cooler at work. It's incredibly aggravating, but I don't think there's much that the leaders of boxing can do to combat that mentality because it isn't based on anything rational or factual. All you can do is wait for boxing to come back into style.

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