Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story on Fedor Emelianenko, and the MMA blogosphere cheered. As it turns out, the NYT was just setting up MMA for a sucker punch.
An editorial ran today that decries the sport -- which they insist on calling ultimate fighting, something that reeks of proudly ignorant elitism -- saying that each fight is a blood-soaked slugfest. They call Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who is fighting against MMA's legalization in New York, a "brave voice" matched up against "some of the oiliest of lobbyists."
That's fine. There are some who don't have the stomach for MMA, nor do they have the discerning eye that can understand the beauty that is part of a truly great fight. Those people should stick to their non-contact sports. Go to watch the U.S. Open, or head out to Saratoga and place a parlay on the ponies. You don't have to watch a sport if you don't like it.
But where I find the New York Times' hypocrisy particularly disconcerting is in their sports section. There, I see a story on the Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward, one of the hardest hitting offensive players in the NFL. Another story comments on how Baltimore Raven, Willis McGahee, is expected to make a full recovery from the vicious, though perfectly legal, hit he took from the Steelers' Ryan Clark. There is another story discussing that a death during a fight in a hockey game is reviving the debate on fighting in the sport. Where is the editorial calling for a hockey ban or a football ban?
Contact sports can be brutal. Limbs are broken, eyes are bloodied, concussions are given. It's part of the game, whether the game is mixed martial arts, football, hockey or any other sport where an athlete puts himself or herself on the line.
At the end of the editorial, the New York Times' editorial board points out our nation's hypocrisy in becoming flummoxed over "wardrobe malfunctions," but enjoying the bloody fights of MMA. They might want to look inward to see their own hypocrisy of celebrating their hometown team, the 2008 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, a team that was known just as much for the ferocious hits of Michael Strahan and Osi Umeniyora as they were for Eli Manning's clutch play. Apparently, it's OK for a 350-lb. defensive end to take down a quarterback who doesn't top 200 lbs., but it's not OK for two fighters of equal size and training to fight for 15 minutes.