By Ivan G. Goldman
So the Nevada commission refused to let Manny Pacquiao take a shot for his injured shoulder that might have allowed him to fight with both arms? He should have taken it anyway and then let the commissioners make their own decision.
That course of action would have been a bucket of ice water drenching the commissioners’ own inflated views of themselves and perhaps woken them to reality. The substance Pacquiao wanted to take was in fact allowed by the doping agency supervising the fight. The commissioners disallowed it for purely bureaucratic reasons.
That is, it wasn’t entered on the proper form in a timely fashion. Their decision was incredibly stupid, intentional sabotage, or a little of each.
Had Manny rejected their decree the commissioners would have been free to fine or DQ him or cancel the fight. With the whole world waiting for the fighters to enter the ring, it wouldn’t have been the third choice and we probably would have seen a better, fairer contest.
Let’s face it, had they cancelled this huge extravaganza over an obscure clerical demand they’d have had to go into witness protection. Pacquiao had been taking the anti-inflammatory shots during training to deal with the injury and his team disclosed it on the proper forms. But, said commission chairman Francisco Aguilar, the injury itself hadn’t been entered on the proper form. It was like ordering up a firing squad because an applicant used the wrong color ink.
Clerks and bureaucrats always set up rules for us. In many cases they can be safely ignored for the good of all concerned. This was one of those cases. The commissioners’ demands were unreasonable, downright crazy, actually, and they should have been saved from their own befuddlement and abusive inclinations.
It reminds me of the attack on Pearl Harbor as described by novelist James Jones in his classic From Here to Eternity. Japanese planes were strafing and killing American soldiers thirty or forty yards away, but the NCO in charge of the company armory wouldn’t release the weapons without a signed form from an officer who wasn’t available. So the company first sergeant ordered his men to break down the door.
Functionaries like that company armorer are everywhere. The standard metaphor for them is that they can’t see the forest for the trees. They suffer from a paralyzing lack of imagination and an inability to see themselves and the world around them accurately. People like the first sergeant know exactly how to handle them. Break down the damn door.
A quick summary: Pacquiao injured his shoulder in training a few weeks ago, and the commission decided Saturday night, just before he entered the ring with Floyd Mayweather in the “fight of the century” that he couldn’t take the necessary shot because of the “timing” of the request.
Note that this decision was based not on the grounds of medicine or sport, but over conforming to clerical requirements.
Consequently we saw no right hooks from Pacquiao. Over the years it’s developed into arguably his principal weapon.
I’ve already written that there are no excuses in such a contest. Mayweather had nothing to do with the commission’s decision and as far as I’m concerned, he won the fight, period, and probably would have won had Manny taken the shot.
But it would have been nice to see a fairer, better fight. The commission’s principal job is to ensure the safety of the fighters and the fairness of the contests under its supervision.
Allow me to describe an incident in my own life. My wife and I were buying a home, and the bank providing the loan had become increasingly demanding, forcing us to hunt up all sorts of obscure forms that really had nothing to do with our credit-worthiness.
About twenty-four hours before the deal was scheduled to close, the bank called our real estate agent and demanded some old form that I wasn’t sure I had. If I did have it, I had no idea of its location. The search could consume a few minutes if I was lucky or perhaps hours and hours. In either case it would have revealed nothing of consequence.
Something in me snapped. No, I told the agent. Tell them I refuse to hunt up the form. If they want to kill the deal and lose their profit, let them, but the paper chase is over.
My agent begged me to be reasonable, but I was being reasonable while some anonymous jerk was using his or her office to inflict tyranny. This is coming from a clerk, I said. Let’s see if he wants to explain to his bosses why he murdered this transaction over such a trivial detail.
The clerk backed down, as bullies often do. I guarantee you the Nevada commissioners would have made an identical retreat.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.