(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Zuffa, LLC via Getty Images)
Earlier this morning I posted an article about embracing the violence that is a part of combat sports. The flipside of my arguably extreme take on violence being beautiful is an article that ran on the Washington Post's KidsPost declaring "Ultimate fighting is too brutal to be considered a sport, even if it's on TV."
Some highlights from the article by Fred Bowen:
Ultimate fighting, or mixed martial arts, is like boxing or wrestling, but the fighters are in an eight-sided ring, called the octagon. They wear lightweight gloves that don't cover their fingertips. And they do not wear shoes. That's because, unlike in boxing or wrestling, the fighters are allowed to kick and knee their opponents. A fighter can even punch someone when he is on the ground. In ultimate fighting, almost anything goes.
He then goes on to say that there "are some rules" while mentioning only headbutts and "grabbing the throat" and kicking downed opponents. A move which is obviously either based on a lack of willingness to research for his article or to dishonestly suggest that it really is that close to anything goes. My initial inclination was toward sensationalism on his part, but then I read this:
The fights last three or five rounds, and each round is no longer than five minutes. By comparison, championship boxing matches are usually 15 three-minute rounds.
The smallest bit of fact checking would have told Mr. Bowen that the last major sanctioning body to switch from 15 rounds to 12 was the IBF in June of 1988. So we've established right there that Bowen is operating on facts that are well over twenty years old.
The folks who promote ultimate fighting say it is safer than boxing or football. According to newspaper reports, Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championships, or UFC, once claimed that ultimate fighting was safer than cheerleading.
Excuse me, but ultimate fighting is not safer than cheerleading. I've watched some ultimate fighting. It's a brutal sport. In fact, I don't think ultimate fighting is a sport at all. It's violence presented as entertainment.
Again, one could look at injury rates of participants and actually base statements around that, but what fun would that be. It'd be too hard to make an argument involving the possibility of traumatic brain injury because that takes too much complex thinking and maybe even having to do something crazy like using Google.
Instead, simply say "nuh uh!" and then fall back on the same old impotent "it's not a sport because I don't like it" argument.
Bowen urges people to change the channel the next time they see UFC on TV because that is the only way to "do the right thing." While doing so he cites that close to 6 million viewers tuned in to watch the fight on Fox.
It was 8.8 million Fred, and I'm willing to bet most of them will be back for the next one.
I'm fine with people not liking fight sports. They are violent. But at least have the decency to get your facts in order before you go on a crusade.