Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Starting with UFC 100 and through the fall of Affliction, there has been a lot of talk about Mixed Martial Arts' assimilation into the upper echelon of the sporting world, it's coverage in the mainstream media and the true makeup of the throngs of people you see surrounding the Octagon.
As could only be expected, the online MMA community has been quick to weigh-in, sticking up for the sport at ever turn like the most popular kid in school sticking up for the nerd being picked on by the bully.
But for right now, it's a losing battle.
Eventually, the bully will get a hold of the nerd and beat him twice as hard, since the popular kid in school can't be by his side all the time. After all, there is football practice, Student Council and making out with Jessica Anderson that need to be attended to as well, right?
The only time when it will really stop, when the nerd will no longer have to look over his shoulder or count on the cool kids to stick up for him is when the nerd stops being a nerd and becomes a cool kid himself.
Kudos to you if I haven't lost you through all those analogies, and if I have, don't worry, they're done.
Until Mixed Martial Arts is being covered in the mainstream media by the people best-suited to do so, there are always going to be newspapers like the Boston Globe and New York Post that want their reporters who are repulsed by the sport to lash out at it.
Why wouldn't they?
You know we (the online MMA community) are going to latch onto the story and give it more time than it deserved in the first place, thereby increasing the story and the newspaper's exposure.
Instead of getting up in arms that the old guard still doesn't understand, we need to be working to replace the old guard. Instead of simply sticking up for the nerd, we need to take him to the mall, buy him some cool clothes and show him that he's not a nerd after all.
It's She's All That 2: Mixed Martial Arts!
Rather than simply be frustrated day after day with the lack of coverage that TSN, Canada's National Sports network, provides to Mixed Martial Arts and the fact that they have someone who also pens a baseball blog doing the bulk of their MMA writing, I'm taking action.
TSN is getting a letter, resume and portfolio of my work, along with an offer to help them cover a sport that many who grew up with TSN are ravenous about, as shown by the two massive crowds that turned out in Montreal when the UFC came to town.
Dave Meltzer is right; the online MMA community and those of us reading blogs like this (thank you so much for reading ... I love you all!) do not reflect the majority of the ticket buying populous that packs arenas across North America to watch fight cards. But it's not because we don't want to be.
I want there to be greater numbers of fans in attendance who know about life outside of the UFC vacuum, who get excited when a fight goes to the ground because you might see a sick submission and who could pick Fedor Emelianenko out of a police lineup if they had to.
However, our current platform for educating the masses is small and while we're growing and gaining footing day-by-day, until we have the opportuntiy and coverage afforded to even golf or NASCAR, the crowds will still be made up of more people who profess their undying love for one fighter or another but couldn't tell you when they're fighting next.
But truthfully, many sporting venues these days aren't jam-packed with only die-hards who eat, breath and sleep the sport they're watching. That's why they are called sporting events. For some, it's just about being there and having a day or a night out of the house.
We need to stop looking at the negatives and work to improve upon the positives.
ESPN may not carry MMA stories on the front page with great frequency, but they have been showing MMA Live every Thursday afternoon for well-over a year now.
TSN almost doesn't cover MMA at all here in Canada, but both The Score and Sportsnet have weekly MMA shows, send reporters out to cover the major events and discuss the sport as much as they do other fringe sports.
Newspapers in general don't give a lot of credence to mixed martial arts in their sports pages, but USA Today features the outstanding MMA Fighting Stance blog of Sergio Non and Beau Dure on their website and have teamed up with Sports Blog Nation to deliver monthly MMA Rankings as well.
Ten years from now, when all of us who were writing about MMA long before it became the most popular sport in the world are writing for respected online newspapers and covering events for the major sports networks, we're going to look back on these days and smile.
The ones who said it would never happen and who were appauled by the brutality in the ring will be long gone, the crowds will be quoting stats and records like the ravenous baseball fans of a bygone era and MMA shows of all the major sports networks will be doing live broadcasts from the events.
I'll still be standing behind some bar, making drinks for servers who hate their job and serving glasses of wine to thrice-divorced cougars who are wondering if I'm married or happily married.
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself with this writing about MMA as a career thing, what with all the anonymous comment-droppers who like to remind me of what a hack I am and all.