By Zack Jenkins
Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino pound-for-pound boxing champion and congressman, recently came out in opposition to President Barack Obama’s support for gay marriage.
Similar to Kobe Bryant, Joakim Noah, Colin Clark, and DeSean Jackson, his comments have sparked public backlash and a media spotlight on the issue.
In an interview with Examiner, Pacquiao said, “God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married. It should not be of the same sex, so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
He has since issued an apology for comparing the gay and lesbian community with Sodom and Gomorrah in an interview with ESPN. Pacquiao, a Roman Catholic, stated that he “supports gays and lesbians, even though he does not approve of gay marriage.”
He is currently preparing for a June 9th fight in Las Vegas against Timothy Bradley, who has also commented publicly on the issue. In response to Pacquiao’s statements, Bradley said he was in favor of gay marriage. “Gay people have their own rights and beliefs and the great thing about this country is that they’re welcome to them…I don’t see what the big deal is.”
Pacquiao has faced bad press tantamount to the Kobe Bryant slur thrown at a referee. On May 16th the Filipino boxing sensation was banned from The Grove, a popular Los Angeles shopping mall, for his comments – even though he had a public interview scheduled with Extra host Mario Lopez. Many gay or pro-gay fans in the boxing community have also publicly spoken out against him, resulting in lower ticket sales for the June fight.
Under pressure from gay rights protesters and boycotters, ticket mega sellers have begun discounting tickets in order to fill seats for the fight. Beth Celis, a sports commentator for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, stated in a recent post, “I just hope the ticket discount does not go up to 20% in the next few days. The gay community is a force to be reckoned with.”
According to SF Gate, the Pacquiao vs. Bradley tickets have already been given a promotional discount for 30% off at tickethunteronline.com with the promo code “wicked.”
Kobe was fined $100,000 by the NBA. Noah was fined $50,000. Clark was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for three games by the MLS. At some point, professional athletes are going to have to realize that statements against gay marriage or the gay community (whether fleeting expletives or crafted statements) will hurt their image and, ultimately, their endorsement potential. The gay community is indeed a fan force to be reckoned with.