Opinion: Bias and Misconceptions about MMA Still Abound
By Jesse Heitz
Throughout the near 20-year history of organized MMA, we fans have heard every conceivable disdain tainted notion from the sport’s detractors. We’ve heard prominent politicians such as Senator John McCain label MMA as “human cockfighting”. Even news figures have jumped into the fray, likening MMA to street fighting and barroom brawling.
Yet, twenty years after the launch of the first UFC event, and given the prodigious amounts of mainstream exposure that MMA has had in the past decade, it’s hard to believe that folks within the sports community still paint a misinformed picture of MMA.
Recently, Seth Davis, a well-known college basketball analyst for CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated, spewed an utterly ridiculous and ignorant series of tweets that debased the sport of MMA and the UFC by name. Davis wrote:
Looking on news sites showing picture of two muscular bloody men in homoerotic fighting pose….Sorry, I’ll never get this UFC thing.
— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) November 18, 2012
Maybe I’m a prude on this but I’m also a dad. I don’t mind my sons watching boxing, but I wouldn’t want them watching a UFC bout. — Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) November 18, 2012
I have no desire to give any credence to Davis’ juvenile and homophobic remarks; as such a notion only highlights his preconceived notions about sport in which it is rather clear that he knows very little about. Absurd and insulting statements generally seem to be the hallmark of the uninformed.
With that said, I would like to address his second of the two highly inflammatory tweets. As you can clearly see, Mr. Davis approves of his children watching boxing, but yet MMA is strictly prohibited. I can’t say for sure whether his reluctance to let his sons watch MMA is out of concerns of exposing his children to so-called “homoerotic fighting” poses, or if it’s based on his apparent belief that MMA features a level of violence well above that of other combat sports, like boxing.
If that’s truly the case, I see no reason not to address his concerns. From 1998 to 2006, 70 boxers died due to injuries sustained in sanctioned events. For the entire 20 year history of sanctioned MMA, there have been three fatalities. Believe me, I wish that there had been none, but the very nature of a combat sport provides the possibility of serious injury or death. Yet, there’s something to say for a combat sport that doesn’t confine its fighters to either bludgeoning the head or the body, a sport that offers the use of the less physically traumatic ground game.
If Mr. Davis truly believes that MMA is worse than boxing, I’d urge him to get reacquainted with a few boxing matches, I think some good choices would be: Dempsey vs. Willard, Baer vs. Campbell, Resto vs. Collins, and for the truly bizarre, Tyson vs. Holyfield. Through the use of these examples, one can see that selective observations can lead to less than fair assessments of any combat sport.
What I’m saying is that before a sports analyst, such as Davis, makes ludicrous assertions concerning the very nature of a sport unfamiliar to him out of misinformation, that they simply do their homework, both on the sport that they’re attacking and on the one that they’re championing.