Illiteracy is not a laughing matter


In another instance of athletes making headlines for something other than their sport,  boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather has been making headlines not about his boxing skills, but his reading skills – or lack of them.

After Mayweather was captured on radio struggling to read a simple promo, the jokes started up all over social media. Former close friend and rapper 50 Cent found the whole situation so funny that he offered to donate $750,000 to charity if Mayweather could read one page of a Harry Potter book out loud without any mistakes. This sparked a debate over literacy of the high school dropout, who responded by posting copies of paychecks from his last two fights, saying “read this”.

I must admit that I was a little taken back when I first heard of Mayweather not being able to read. Naturally you’d just assume that, being an adult, he would be able to read. The truth is, though, plenty of adults are out there who can’t – Mayweather just happens to be a famous one.

Instead of finding it funny, like so many apparently do, I think it is sad. According to an article in the Huffington Post, 32 million adults in America can’t read. Thirty-two million. That’s 14 percent of the population. Twenty-one percent of adults in America cannot read above a fifth-grade level.

Floyd Mayweather has responded to critics by saying that he is quite successful without being able to read well, and that is true. How many illiterate Americans can say that, though? Maybe it’s time to stop joking and start looking for solutions.