Electronic Arts takes choosing cover athletes for their sports titles very seriously. Both Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson are on the cover of the upcoming Fight Night Round 4, and some have raised questions over glamorizing Tyson, who was convicted on rape charges in 1992 and spent three years in jail as a result.
EA Sports president Peter Moore addressed this issue head on during an interview with Eurogamer.
"I fully understand people's issues with that," acknowledged Moore. "And you know, the challenge you have with athletes is that they're human beings and you look at what you do, and you make some hard choices. I actually made that decision because of the respect I have for Mike Tyson as a boxer."
Moore defended the decision to include Tyson on the cover, but admitted there are sometimes unforeseen issues when working with athletes. He pointed to the current controversy over steroids in baseball.
"There's a period where performance-enhancing drugs were not tested for, or the testing was kept private and so there is clearly a large percentage of baseball players from a particular era that used performance-enhancing drugs," he said. "And many of them have been exposed, some of them have admitted to it, and it's really difficult to pick through all of that. Athletes are human beings. You look at some of the decisions we have to make and they're not easy to make, so it's a case-by-case situation for us."
For now, however, it's a non-issue to EA. Tyson is still on the cover.
It's an interesting question, though. When do you draw the line and say, "maybe it doesn't make sense to glamorize this person, no matter how great of an athlete they were"? It comes back to an individual (or in this case, a corporate) sense of social responsibility, and in this case, EA decided it wasn't a problem.