Opinion: Ignorance Clouding Judgment of MMA Opposition in New York
By Jesse Heitz
I have spent several previous articles writing on the battle for MMA’s legalization in the state of New York. Over the course of the last few months, it looked like the small band of misguided politicians and the near fanatical groups of special interest activists were well on their way to being quelled, and the sport being on course to be legalized in New York.
I still subscribe to the view that MMA will find its way into the greener pasture that is New York, but apparently not without suffering the blatant uninformed ignorance of a select few blind opponents. To illustrate this point, I found an excellent letter to the editor which was featured in the March 20th online edition of the “Albany Times Union”. The rather brief letter, written by William J. Greagan, is entitled, “MMA too Violent to be Ennobling” (http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/MMA-too-violent-to-be-ennobling-4370876.php#ixzz2OxydDYA9), has been posted below.
“With all of the hue and cry over concussions in the National Football League, and in football at all levels, what person, much less our legislative representatives, thinks permitting mixed martial arts in New York is a good idea?
In football, the head injuries are largely accidental or incidental. In MMA, head injuries and other incapacitating tactics seem to be the intended result. MMA looks like an organized bar brawl.
Those who vote for it can never again be heard to decry violence in our society. There is nothing ennobling, artistic or inspiring about it.
The only benefit to the state is a source of revenue. With that rationale, why not dog or cock fights or fight-to-the-death gladiatorial combat?”
First, let me point out that anyone who has watched football for longer than the last season or two, during which they’ve instituted numerous rules that essentially outlaw any contact to the helmet, knows full well that “headhunting” or “leading with the head” was a widely utilized practice. You typically don’t see drastic overhauls of the rules (the establishment of unprecedented penalties and fines) as a method of combating accidental and incidental contact, but rather such punitive punishments are meant to deter intentional acts.
To his second point, Mr. Greagan needs to better define violence. If MMA is guilty of being “too violent”, an entirely too subjective term, then wouldn’t most any other sport also be guilty of the same infraction? Certainly boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, football, hockey, baseball, etc., should all be banned for being “too violent”. I mean, in these sports we see regular usage and occurrences of: “take out slides”, “crashing home plate”, “remember me shots”, “catching him with his head down”. I’ve seen all kinds of ghastly injuries in these mainstream sports—including the pervasive concussion problem that is indicative of any contact sport, mangled appendages, broken necks and backs, unconsciousness, you name it.
Finally, the comparison of MMA, an internationally sanctioned sport with an exceptionally clean history of serious injuries, to something as barbaric and atrocious as dog or cock fighting and ancient gladiator battles, is simply absurd, ignorant, and downright disgusting. Perhaps the author of such filth should concern himself with his own moral compass, rather than concern himself with those people who recognize that MMA is a legitimate sport and is the antithesis of animal abuse and state-condoned murder.
Part of me, the opinion writer portion, absolutely loves it when moral crusaders such as this fellow feel the persistent need to chime in on a topic they know very little about. It provides tremendous amounts of material on which to write. However, the other half, the part that is a true fan of the sport, feels a sense of frustration.
Frustration that the progress of this great sport, one that can trace its roots back to antiquity, is perpetually impeded by those who find the sport to be morally or ethically objectionable. Instead of making rational and logical arguments, we get blather about concussions and its supposed NFL equivalent, the culture of violence that the sport is accused of purveying, and that the sport is the moral equivalent of gladiator battles and dog fights. In the end, I’m confident that progress will not be denied by the blind obstinance of a confused band of ragtag opponents.