Vancouver School Board Chair Clarifies Recent Comments: “I Don’t Blame the UFC”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Vancouver Board of Education Chairperson Patti Bacchus turned heads throughout the MMA world recently, when she mentioned the Ultimate Fighting Championship in a story from the Vancouver Courier, about the recent riots in the Canadian city. The Chairperson (pictured) spoke on a variety of issues related to the youth that either celebrated or participated in the June 15th riots, and while discussing the impulse control of teens, or the lack thereof, Bacchus stated:
“The painted faces and hockey itself—it’s aggressive, they celebrate the brawling on ice, it’s winning, it’s dominance. If kids are all watching a UFC game and cheering someone for bloodying up someone else’s face, how big a leap is that from cheering on someone smashing a window? It’s very mixed messages we’re sending to young people who are still in a stage of developing their impulse control and moral development.”
The comments were picked up by several sports and MMA media outlets, leading to an angry response from many fans and observers, who concluded that Bacchus was citing mixed-martial-arts as one of the causal factors behind the recent riots.
When contacted by FCF to see if she would be interested in discussing her comments further, Bacchus responded by stating:
“I don’t blame the UFC – please re-read the context of the comment. It’s about much larger societal, sociological and historical issues, interwoven with the physiological realities of young males. People have rioted over many issues – even opera. I talked about a number of issues, including mixed messages. To accuse me of blaming UFC is as ridiculous as blaming UFC for a much more complex event. UFC itself is not at all the issue – unfortunate to see the reaction what was intended to be part of a more nuanced dialogue.”
The Courier article included the Chairperson’s contention that in the aftermath of the June 15th riots, too much emphasis has been focused on punishing the youth who were involved in the violence, rather than attempting to determine why the outburst occurred. Bacchus went on to cite the benefits of “restorative justice,” whereby the offender and the victim meet to discuss a crime, its effects and what should be the consequences for the offending action.
Bacchus also added to FCF regarding the Courier story:
“It was indeed a wide ranging interview with only a few select quotes. I know the sport has taken a lot of criticism and it’s been a ton of work to bring it to Vancouver and in hindsight, I wish I’d used a different reference.”
On June 15th, Vancouver, British Columbia was rocked by a riot following the Vancouver Canuck’s loss to the Boston Bruins in the seventh and final game of the Stanley Cup Finals, which resulted in several cars being set on fire, extensive property damage, looting and dozens of injuries.
In the aftermath, authorities, residents and the media a like assigned blame for the senseless outburst on a variety of groups, including drunken hockey fans, disenchanted youth and criminal elements.
Just days before, on June 11th, the UFC returned to the coastal city to promote its “Dos Santos vs. Carwin” event. The Vancouver Courier reported several days later that local authorities encountered no significant incidents following the card.
Photo courtesy The Vancouver School Board