Opinion: MMA Finally Nearing Legalization In NY State?
It appears that continued pressure is being applied for the legalization of MMA within New York State. This time, the pressure for legalization comes not from the ever-present pressure of outside forces, such as lobbyists and fans, but from within the ranks of New York State’s own elected officials. I’ve written about this topic in prior articles, but as with anything involving MMA, the process is constantly evolving.
In a recent interview published by the “Tonawanda News,” New York Assembly, John Ceretto, from Lewiston stated,
“Once again, New York State is missing out on an opportunity to generate revenue, create jobs and strengthen our tourism industry. Mixed martial arts is not the ‘no-holds barred’ debacle it was 20 years ago. Today, MMA is highly regulated and is one of the safest contact sports, with far fewer injuries than boxing, football or even gymnastics. MMA is a proven draw and I look forward to the day when venues in Niagara Falls and throughout the region have the ability to host these exciting and profitable events.”
“MMA will be another event to help bring tourist and their dollars to Niagara Falls and would be a boost for local hotels, food-service and other tourist-related industries. The sport is very popular and has a loyal fan base, which is rapidly growing worldwide. These fans want to enjoy the sport live and I believe Niagara Falls would be an ideal venues for these events.”
“I understand that some people may not like the sport. However, there is no reason to stand in the way of allowing thousands of New York mixed martial arts fans to enjoy the sport locally. The sport is all over television and can even be seen regularly on broadcast television. By failing to legalizing MMA in New York, the Legislature is just ensuring that this money is spent elsewhere and depriving our economy of a proven commodity that will have a positive effect on a wide range of businesses. As the Ranking Member of the Assembly Tourism Committee, I find that unacceptable. MMA should be a part of our local tourism industry and I am confident that common sense will finally trump misguided perceptions of the sport this year.”
Indeed there have been a plethora of people who have spoken out about the incredible perceived lack of judgment and logical thought processes that seem to plague a powerful coalition of New York politicians that seem hell-bent on blocking the entrance of MMA into their state. Yet, cracks are appearing within that political machine.
The issues of fighter safety and rivalries with other contact sports have been thoroughly covered in other written pieces. The issue explored in this article rests solely on the economic level. MMA is as booming of an industry as can be found in the world today. It has made gigantic strides over the past decade, growing at an exponential rate.
In an era of downed economies, it is an industry that is not only surviving, but thriving and expanding. When other industries are being strangled and laying off workers, MMA as a whole is making new inroads and hiring new employees in a wide range of areas. From administrative and support staff for promotions, to trainers and staff at gyms, to the vendors that supplement the veritable explosion of MMA events and shows taking place around the nation.
Undoubtedly in tough economic times, the allure of millions of dollars in fresh and previously untouched income is an incredible motivating force for politicians that continually feel the effects of tightening budgets and the ferocious ire of the disgruntled citizenry whose pocketbooks seem to be under increasing strain.
For an example, the UFC alone is estimated to generate $350-450 million dollars. As it stands now, MMA as an industry, according to a variety of sources, not the least of which is UFC President Dana White, earns somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion a year. Can an unusually biased band of politicians hold out in the face of such incredible earning potential for ever? Not likely.
Does the voice of a lone State Assemblyman necessarily mean that the sport is on the verge of entering into the historically blockaded and potentially most lucrative market that is New York State? No, but it’s certainly an indicator that MMA is headed in the right direction with regards to the sport’s entrance into the Promised Land.