Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Rise of Mixed Martial Arts...And the Fall of Decency

How do I know that society is going down hill?  Increasing crime, growing poverty?  These are a couple of good indicators.  But here's another more unorthodox one: for the last decade and a half or so, one of the fastest growing sports in the world has been something called mixed martial arts, or MMA for short.  Okay, so what does MMA have to do with measuring the decline of society?  Well let me put it this way: when the one of the world's fastest growing sports is one where two individuals beat the living crap out of each other for people's entertainment, I think society is in big trouble.  Now I know some of you reading this will want to tell me that there's plenty of violence in sports nowadays and MMA is no worse than football, hockey or boxing.  To those of you who do make this argument, my answer is simple: MMA, unlike football or hockey, is dependent on its participants beating each other up and inflicting as much pain as is necessary to win.  In MMA, violence isn't just part of the sport.  It is the sport.  Now of course, the same can be said about boxing and other martial arts-related competitions.  But MMA is the worse than any of these sports because it's essentially a combination of all forms of unarmed combat into one - everything from boxing to muay thai to jiu-jitsu - basically, anything that you can do to hurt someone.  But now that MMA has become so popular, it's not simply a negative reflection of society.  It's a threat to moral decency.

The so-called sport of MMA sets a bad example for everyone.  It sends a message that violence for the sake of violence is okay; that fighting is fun; that it's great to jump for joy when someone gets knocked out.  Actually, MMA fighters are sometimes paid extra if they knock their opponents out.  Pretty disgusting, isn't it.  And yet, more and more people now consider MMA to be a legitimate sport on the same level as hockey or basketball.  Here in Canada, for example, Rogers Sportsnet, one of the country's leading sports networks, selected Georges St. Pierre, one of the most well-known MMA fighters, as Canadian athlete of the year for three years in a row, from 2008 to 2010.  I'm sorry, but in my opinion, a person who makes a living beating people up and taking beatings himself is not worthy of such a distinction.  It's not that I think Mr. St. Pierre, or GSP as he is popularly known, is a bad person.  In fact, I would argue that most of the well-known MMA fighters are not bad people at all.  They're certainly not the mindless barbarians that MMA makes them look like.  Before they became involved in MMA, some of today's most popular fighters did great things.  I still remember hearing about one fighter who used to be a math teacher.  I think we can all agree that teaching is a very noble profession.  Another well-known fighter, Ronda Rousey, who is now arguably the most recognized face of women's MMA, became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo back in the 2008 games.  But unfortunately, both the former Olympian and the former math teacher, who once did noble deeds, eventually turned to the dark side, so to speak, just like many others who are now MMA fighters.  What I'm basically trying to demonstrate is that MMA has become a way of turning good people bad.  And if this is the case, imagine what it can do to some of the most vulnerable people in our society - our young.

Yes, MMA is for the most part adult entertainment.  But I've begun to notice its popularity creeping into the younger demographic of people under 18.  So just imagine how I felt when I heard a school here in Canada was going to invite MMA fighters to talk to kids about bullying.  When I heard about this on the radio just a couple of years ago, I was shocked and dismayed to say the least.  I can also remember how one person on the same radio show said that having MMA fighters talk to kids about bullying is like having strippers talk to kids about body image.  Whoever this person was, I agree with them 100%.  It's bad enough that adults are being corrupted by the likes of MMA, but now we have to worry about our children being exposed to it.  I cringe at the idea of any child of mine wanting to be the next Georges St. Pierre.  Actually, I don't have a child, but if I did, my advice to him or her would be, if you want to fight, go fight for king and country, not pride and a paycheck. 


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