So, the Ontario government has approved Mixed Martial Arts events. Makes you pity poor Michael Vick. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback - and at one time one of the world's best athletes - went to prison in the U.S., basically losing everything, for profitting off dog fights. In Toronto some people are attempting to ban kite fighting, for heaven's sake. Not the Ontario Liberals: Get those human gladiators into the ring, they say, and bring on the financial benefits.
The decision to let MMA fights come to the province shows no spine, no values, no sense of what kind of society they want to promote. To get a sense of what Mixed Martial Arts fighting is all about, hold your nose and check it out on one of the sports channels to see how repulsive this sport actually is. You can do so almost any night of the week. Monday night when I was look for the ballgame on RSO, I couldn't get it. Instead of broadcasting the team they own, RSO delivered MMA action - two guys going at each other with fists and feet, clutching, grabbing, kicking until the blood flows.
The response from the crowd during these tilts is completely terrifying as spectators revel in the mayhem. Unlike professional wrestling - which is ridiculous in its own way - mixed martial arts sport has no humour, no theatre, nothing but unadulterated violence, albeit skilfully deployed.
I don't buy the argument that MMA is safer than football or hockey. For one thing, we don't know what the longterm effects of being pummelled in MMA ways is going to have on competitors. For another, both football and hockey are beginning to grasp - slowly to be sure - that concussions are a major threat to the players, which is why they've made hits to the head illegal. In MMA action, not only are head hits ok, once a fighter is down, his rival can continue to pound his head into ground.
And, can I just say one word about football and hockey? Helmets. They're required in both sports. Not in MMA, because seeing all that blood flow is part of the appeal and no one MMA-involved wants to encourage anything that might detract from the macho glory of the gladiators.
While ranting on this subject I'm often asked why I don't support the province's decision since some government regulation will decrease the danger factor. But I'm less concerned about the safety of the fighters than I am about the MMA's values. All contact sports can be dangerous, but the object of hockey is to put the puck in the net, the object of football is to get the ball over the goal line or between the uprights. The object of MMA? To beat the shit out of each other. Not to knock someone out like boxing - which I don't love, either - but to do harm, to injure, to draw blood.
MMA has always had its fans and participants. If fighters want to endanger themselves, that's their business. Let it thrive underground. By approving MMA events, the Liberals are sending the message out to young boys and girls (women do compete but in a much less popular organization) that doing bodily harm for sport is cool.
Does anyone really think we can do anything about reducing violence in our culture when the government is making money by entertaining sadistic audiences with vicious bloodshed? The fact that it's popular doesn't make a difference to me. Blood lust has always been big, ever since the Romans sent the Christians to the lions.
I don't want a government to do what's popular, I want my government to show leadership. And McGuinty's Liberals caved on this one in a craven way.