You may have heard by now that noted boxing journalist Thomas Hauser has been hired by HBO as a consultant. This has been given a lot of talk in the boxing community. Some don't see the big deal. Some believe it is, as Kevin Iole put it, "a dark day for boxing journalism."
We'll start with Iole, who was very critical of Hauser's choice as a boxing journalist to go to work for the industry, so to speak, in a piece at Yahoo! Sports. Iole's main point, if I am not mistaken: You cannot be a true journalist and also a consultant to the industry which you're covering, and that is, basically what Hauser has done.
His other point: HBO has silenced the man who has arguably been their biggest critic in recent years by buying him out. Do read the whole thing, but here's a bit of it:
Hauser has been an ardent, and eloquent, critic of HBO Sports, particularly the regime of its now-former president, Ross Greenburg. Writing for Internet sites such as Seconds Out and The Sweet Science, Hauser repeatedly blistered HBO in a series of lengthy articles about the inner workings and failures of its sports division in the boxing space.
... So, on Wednesday, [HBO co-president Richard] Plepler made a brilliant move in the game of office politics when he hired Hauser as a consultant. With that one move, Plepler plugged the leak and kept more embarrassing information about HBO from getting into the media.
Hauser plans to continue to write about boxing as a journalist, which is the real issue here: Can we trust him to be the same writer he has been in the past, now that he's being paid by "The Man"? Hauser is a great writer, a very intelligent man, a bit pompous as most great writers are, and as Iole said, he had the sources, the bravery, and the power to do more than just complain about things, the way most of us do. He was able to actually expose a lot of what was wrong at HBO, and thus, a lot of what was wrong with the American business model for the sport of boxing.
While most of Hauser's vitriol (if you wish to call it that) was aimed at former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who has since been replaced by Ken Hershman, it would seem there is still a need for a Hauser-level voice when it comes to these matters. However you want to slice it, boxing continues to struggle for a foothold in the States. Promoters can spin it any number of ways, and they do. Fans, too, want to believe that boxing is totally healthy in the United States, as three times per year on average, a lot of people buy a PPV show featuring one of two fighters.
But the problem with their argument of "See? Boxing isn't dead, you guys!" is that death is not the real issue. The real issue is something that requires more thought than the nauseating "boxing is dead" chant we hear from those who really don't know what they're talking about.
Thomas Hauser was better than anyone at breaking down some of those genuine issues, putting a spotlight on the real problems, and not just the endless and often mindless shouting about perceived problems.
I don't mean to talk about Hauser the boxing journalist in the past tense, really, but it sure seems like it's over -- any fight with any HBO association that Hauser covers will now be subject to skepticism about an agenda he may have via HBO. Maybe it really is a dark day for boxing journalism.