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I'm Glad Dana White's Video Blogs Are Gone

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Except that they are not:

Dana White will be doing at least one video blog either leading up to or in Montreal for the 4/18 show.  That didn't take long.

I recognize White's video blogs (vlogs) are quite popular and the appeal is obvious. Viewers are not only given access to information and a world that otherwise they never even knew existed, but it's presented to them as a gift or reward for fan loyalty. White, the quintessential MMA fan himself, has a nose and palate for the sort of content hardcore MMA fans thirst for and these blogs deliver. And, naturally, like any sports fan desires, these blogs let the fan or viewer in on the action and bring the sport closer to home. White routinely bashes other sports for creating and maintaining distances between the athletes and the fans, and rightly so. These blogs are part of an effort to not repeat those same mistakes. The content is often interesting, consistently delivered and dazzles with backstage celebrity encounters or demonstrations of wealth and power.

But the true issue is that White trafficks a management style that cultivates loyalty and favoritism. There can be no doubt that if White views you positively, he will act altruistically and use his considerable muscle to assist you. Conversely, if he perceives you as any sort of dissenter or threat, he will likewise use his considerable status and power to wreak havoc. Admittedly, virtually everyone works with a similar balance, but White's world is very much an either/or proposition: either you're with him or you're not. And if you're not, god help you.

The problem with these video blogs is that they are part and parcel of White's loyalty-driven reality and a tool to curry favor for White, his actions and his personal decisions. White should be commended for reaching out to fans at live shows and by trying to offer them more "inside" content than other major sports leagues. But ultimately, their purpose isn't merely entertainment. Burnishing one's image generally speaking is business, so there can be no issue with that. And the vlogs cannot be signled out as the sole contributer to White's overly buddy-buddy relationship with the fans, which itself is not so regrettable. What is problematic, however, is that over time these efforts (and others) cause some of the members of the fanbase to view White as though he is immune to criticism or meaningful evaluation. White has every right to treat UFC's fans as he sees fit, but the vlogs should not be naively viewed as nothing more than a corporate executive working overtime to level the playing field between the fans and the sport.

Fans should be treated well and rewarded for their efforts for supporting the UFC so consistently. And generally speaking, White has done a commendable job of this. But fans should not take it upon themselves nor be looked to for providing safe haven from the rigors and pressure of the mainstream, particularly when what the mainstream is asking for is culpability for brazen homophobic and mysogynistic slurs. Currying favor is fine (and who could expect any different?), but MMA is being done no favors when fans reflexively choose to protect or defend all of White's personal decisions. And when such defense comes at a cost to the entire sport, the closeness of White's borderline friendship with the fans becomes extremely problematic.

Getting rid of the video blogs isn't going to force a techtonic shift. But anything that can help fans more soberly separate White's personal decisions from support for the UFC or MMA is welcome. I am certain others enjoy the vlogs and can view them without any subtle brainwashing effect, but for a sport that still has miles to climb having an appreciative fanbase is extremely helpful; having a discerning fanbase is positively critical.