Manny Pacquiao is one of the world's most beloved sports figures, but his recent comments on gay marriage are sure to alienate some of his fans. I'm not here to judge whether or not Pac-Man is right or wrong in his beliefs, but I do know that sports fans love their athletes to be bland and not take hard-line stances publicly.
The world's top pound-for-pound boxer has said that he is against gay marriage. Pacquiao is a devout Roman Catholic, so his religious beliefs obviously obviously are a factor in his political stances.
Some might find Pacquiao's honesty about his feelings refreshing. While I do respect his religious beliefs and his right to publicly state his opinion, I think it could really damage his brand.
According to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, Americans are split on the issue of gay marriage. That means Pacquiao's hard-line stance could turn off a significant chunk of the population.
Americans typically like their athletes to keep their personal opinions to themselves. Arguably, the most popular American athletes over the past decade have been Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning. All three of those guys have largely kept their political and religious beliefs to themselves and have appealed to the masses because of it.
One of Pacquiao's biggest draws is that he seems like such a nice guy. He is almost always smiling and genuinely respects his opponents in the ring. There is none of the false bravado of a guy like Floyd Mayweather, whose antics turn off a large percentage of the public.
Again, Pacquiao's personal and religious beliefs are his own and he is certainly allowed to believe whatever he wants. But by making those stances public, he will likely reduce his popularity.
With a fight against the 28-0 Timothy Bradley coming up on June 9, Pacquiao doesn't need the distraction that his most recent statements will bring him.