Originally written on Juiced Sports Blog  |  Last updated 10/31/14
Pacq

Pacquiao shortly banned from The Grove for expressing his views on gay marriage before being allowed back.

MITCH BLATT

In a bizarre turn of events Wednesday, May 15, world champion boxer and Filipino congressman Manny Pacquiao was banned then unbanned from The Grove mall in Los Angeles after expressing his opposition to gay marriage in response to President Barack Obama expressing his support.

The owner of The Grove, Rick Caruso, tweeted, “Boxer Manny Pacquiao is not welcome at The Grove LA. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos, not a place for intolerance.” The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos except Pacquiao, and apparently The Grove is also not a gathering a majority of Californians, based on the political views most Californians hold as expressed by their votes in 2008.

According to USA Today, The Grove has reversed itself, but not before an event he was supposed to host at the mall was canceled. It’s strange that the mall got into such an uproar about an athlete’s political thoughts, but the brouhaha will at least add fire to the Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao rivalry after Mayweather appeared to disagree with Pacquiao.

Mayweather said on Twitter, “I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage. I’m an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want,” a comment that Yahoo! Sports interpreted as him having “tweaked Pacquiao.”

Pacquiao, who is intensely Catholic, first caused controversy by citing Bible verses in opposition to gay marriage, saying the Bible defines marriages as being among people of the opposite sex. His comments quickly caused a splash in political and sports circles with supporters of gay marriage harshly criticizing him.

People expressing and defending their opinions is a healthy part of democracy, but banning people who disagree with you from a mall–while stressing the need for tolerance–is over the top, and Caruso must have realized that when he reportedly changed his mind. If banning athletes from businesses becomes a trend, Steve Nash might find himself unwelcome in some businesses owned by supporters of Arizona’s immigration law. Stephen A. Smith questioned why more athletes don’t express their political opinions in 2008. This is one reason.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what any athlete’s view on social and political issues is, but if athletes are going to say it and it’s going to cause a public controversy, it will be thrown into the news cycle for a short time.

Bob Arum, the promoter of Pacquiao’s upcoming fight against Timothy Bradley, said:

“People have a right to decide for themselves on these issues. So Manny is against same-sex marriage? Guess what? Millions of other people in this country are, too. What’s the problem?”

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