What's you problem?

I'M DESPERATE TO AVOID THIS RINGSIDE EVENING. I'm a senior manager for a Birmingham-based sports equipment manufacturer. We happen to sponsor a local boxer who's been doing very well. He's got a big match coming up, and I've been asked to attend in lieu of my director.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But I'm really opposed to the whole idea of boxing - it glamorises violence and I can't bear the idea of condoning it by attending a fight. How can I get out of it?

Principles, they say, should be absolute; and in theory, I suppose, they should be. But in practice, we often work to a sort of sliding scale Nicking a company pencil or making an unauthorised private call from the office are acts of theft, yet our consciences remain untroubled and we don't believe we've blown our chances with St Peter. But somewhere between the company pencil and a deliberately falsified expenses claim a line is crossed, though no new category of crime has been committed.

In theory, by taking a salary from a firm that sponsors a local boxer, you are already implicitly condoning boxing. But it's only when your physical presence is required at this match - to be witnessed by many hundreds of people - that you feel your particular line will have been crossed.

If I'm right, the critical difference between where you are now and where you would be if you went to this fight is one of exposure. Your private opposition to boxing suddenly becomes a public statement of apparent support.

I've taken you through this laborious analysis because it may help when you talk to your director. Explain that you aren't coming over all righteous about the sponsorship; it's a legal sport with many honest followers and the company is entitled to chip in with help. But please may you be excused from personal attendance? It would be an extremely painful experience for you - and you're certainly not a good enough actor to be able to feign enjoyment.

Just be certain in your own mind that you're not confusing principle with simple squeamishness.

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