Yahoo! Sports Special: South Dakota Legislator Calls MMA ‘Child Porn of Sports’

February 26, 2013
25 Comments

The following article was written by Kevin Iole and was originally published in the Cagewriter blog of official MMAWeekly.com content partner Yahoo! Sports.

A bill to create an athletic commission in South Dakota is going nowhere fast, largely thanks to the ignorance of Gov. Dennis Daugaard and state house Rep. Steve Hickey.

Their primary objective is to ban sanctioned mixed martial arts in the state. In a blog post, Hickey writes that, “MMA Cage Fighting is the child porn of sports.”

Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin at UFC 131The lack of knowledge and the lack of research both Daugaard and Hickey showed about MMA has to be frightening for persons who live in South Dakota. If they can’t be bothered to do the minimal research required to learn that MMA is far safer than other “mainstream” sports, including football, it’s scary to think about the laws they’ll pass in the state regarding education, health care and budgets.

The UFC is the largest MMA promoter in the world. No fighter has ever suffered traumatic brain injury, let alone died, in the UFC’s 20-year history. A 2006 study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and which appeared in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found MMA has far less traumatic brain injury than other sports.

Mixed Martial Arts competitions have changed dramatically since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. The overall injury rate in MMA competitions is now similar to other combat sports, including boxing. Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of TBI [traumatic brain injury] in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking.

MMA events must continue to be properly supervised by trained referees and ringside physicians, and the rules implemented by state sanctioning—including weight classes, limited rounds per match, proper safety gear, and banning of the most devastating attacks– must be strictly enforced. Further research is necessary to continue to improve safety in this developing new sport.

A 2008 study released by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reached the same conclusions. After a five-year study, its authors wrote:

Injury rates in regulated professional MMA competition are similar to other combat sports; the overall risk of critical sports-related injury appears low. Additional study is warranted to achieve a better understanding of injury trends and ways to further lower injury risk in MMA.

The simple fact is that a random NFL player is at far greater risk of a serious brain injury than is a random MMA fighter. Sadly, neither Gov. Daugaard nor Rep. Hickey bothered to do much investigation or educate themselves before speaking out.

South Dakota state house Rep. Mark Johnston introduced a bill to create an athletic commission in the state for the express purpose of making the sport safer. According to the Argus Leader, Johnston said his goal is to prevent unregulated events where tragedies could possibly occur.

A state athletic commission’s job is, at the core, to protect the fighters. It makes sure the proposed matches are fair and that promoters have doctors and an ambulance at all events. The commissions also require qualified referees, who stop fights when one fighter is in danger. It also requires fighters to undergo extensive medical examinations before fighting to make certain they are fit to compete. States such as Nevada, California and New York, with strong commissions, have discovered injuries fighters didn’t know they had and prevented them from competing. That wouldn’t be the case in South Dakota, with no commission to require those tests.

A fear of many states with strong commissions is that promoters will travel across state lines to put on shows in states such as South Dakota, where there is no regulation and where, as a result, costs are less. But the result is that it is far less safe for the competitors.

Sadly, neither Daugaard nor Hickey recognize that. Hickey told the Argus Leader he was angered by the thought of his state sanctioning MMA.

I’m offended that the state would legitimize cage-fighting and the bloody violence that those kinds of spectacles create. I think it’s interesting that we declare that it is a crime for one human being to strike another, and yet the state now proceeds to legitimize, and label a sport, cage-fighting.

With all due respect, Gov. Daugaard, a few points:

• It is a crime for one human to strike another outside of the bounds of athletic competition. But it is no crime to strike another in the context of sport and when doctors and referees are available to protect the athletes and where the athletes have signed a contract to compete against each other.

• MMA fights sometimes get bloody. But no fighter to my knowledge has ever suffered anything worse than scarring as a result of being cut. It is important to note that a lot of the cuts are on the forehead above the eyes, where they mix with sweat and make them seem far worse than they are.

• States that have athletic commissions ban fighters who have sustained head injuries from competing again for several months. And before even being allowed to practice in a gym, the fighter needs to be cleared by a doctor.

• MMA is a combination of sports, many of which are already legal in South Dakota, including boxing, wrestling, karate, jiu-jitsu and judo.

As unenlightened as Daugaard’s response about MMA is, he looks remarkably progressive compared to Hickey. In his blog, Hickey spews over-the-top nonsense such as this:

MMA Cage Fighting is the child porn of sports. The psychological community will tell you that desensitization to violence works exactly like desensitization to porn. You know how porn progresses… a peek at topless isn’t enough, it all has to come off, then a pic is not enough… it goes to video then to virtual and then to the devaluation and mistreatment of women, human trafficking and sex crimes against women. Violence works the same way. Boxing wasn’t enough so they took the gloves off, then they allowed kicking, kneeing people in the head, then elbows to the face, then they put a cage around it. The point is to knock the other guy unconscious while pay per view crowds cheer it on. Why not nunchucks? In Rome they’d gather in colosseums and bring out prisoners and entertain themselves by making them fight to the death. That wasn’t enough so they brought out the helpless and the hated and brought in the hungry lions. Crowds cheered.

I guess what Rep. Hickey is saying, among other things, is that teen-age boys who sneak a peek at the latest issue of Playboy are going to turn into pimps and violent criminals.

In addition, Rep. Hickey, the point of MMA is NOT to knock the other guy unconscious. It happens, just as getting knocked unconscious happens in an NFL or college football game when a linebacker beats the offensive tackle and hits an unsuspecting quarterback from behind and drives him into the ground.

If Daugaard and Hickey want so badly to protect their citizens, perhaps they ought to consider banning smoking cigarettes. The impact on cigarette smoking on health care costs is well-documented and has been for decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking adds $96 billion annually to health care costs.

I humbly ask, Gov. Daugaard, why don’t you do a great thing for the health of the citizens of your state and ban cigarette smoking? It is undeniable that as a result, South Dakotans will live longer, healthier lives and the state’s economy will benefit.

As for your efforts to save your citizens the horrors of MMA, then think about banning football, so no football players get concussions and wind up like so many NFL superstars. I would wager that far more South Dakotans get concussions from playing football than ever would from fighting in regulated MMA events. And, if they did get a concussion after fighting in a regulated event in your state, they’d be far better taken care of and much more likely to fully recover.

Unregulated MMA, is the danger here, Governor. It’s not regulated MMA. Educate yourself and do something good for your constituents.

  • Derek Lemaster

    Wow! I thought I had problems. The numbers dont lie, MMA is much safer than a lot of other sports. They really should do some homework before saying twisted s*** like that.

  • Aaron T

    Good luck on re-election.

  • Rence

    Having grown up there, i can say that this issue will have no effect on his reelection. What i would point out to them is that the kid that was injured (killed? i forget) not so long ago would be just fine if SD had an athletic commission. Just sayin…

    • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

      Isn’t wrestling very big in South Dakota?

      • Rence

        Yeah, depending on the school districts. We didnt have a wrestling program but honestly my senior class was 6 people lol

        • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

          I hope this legislator changes. MMA is the perfect outlet for wrestlers after college. I’m sure it would hurt their economy if MMA is banned hurting the number of schools in the state and such things.

  • Mike mckinney

    Kevin, it is true that its silly to infer that a kid looking at playboy will then become pimps and violent criminals. However, that’s not really what he said. The guy came off as an idiot himself. There’s no need to sink to his level and make off the wall statements.
    N a kid looking at playboy doesn’t just become violent towards women. However statisticly there’s an overwhelming number of pimps, child molesters, and violent criminals that have taken the exact path he describes.
    It is also very fair to question whether combat sports may desensitize kids and people to violence. It is no way the intention of the sport, or the people in it to hurt our youth. But the truth is we just don’t know.

    All of that however is a moot point. These are reasons to regulate the sport.(or try to ban it)
    But it’s odd that both of these bozo’s block a bill that would actually give them a better ability to control what they don’t like. They should both lose reelection for the stupidity of that alone.

  • BarrysHypocrisy

    So there will be no MMA in South Dakota….big deal.

  • gnodeb

    Hey, lets see some random lion for LHW title… of course no nails and no teeths :P

    • kb

      Seriously, I always love the Rome analogy. Very apt; let’s compare consensual fighting that, at least as far as the UFC is concerned, has never resulted in a death or serious injury to prisoners being taken into a coliseum and eaten alive by a F$@#*#^* animal!

  • Zap

    Much effort went into that article. Too bad it will never be read by the people it addresses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/swift.hammer.9 Patrick Hammer

    This exemplifies the disconnection of most legislators/puppets from their constituents. Uneducated in the realm of common understanding, they are doomed to spew what ever they are fed. This particular gentleman hasn’t been fed well and this explains why people are ready for our government to just hang it up, go back to our constitution and start over.

  • http://twitter.com/KobeDwightSteve Es Kay

    South Dakota….

  • Sir_Roy

    What we need to realize, is these folks (often religious fanatics) don’t care about injury rates. What they focus on is the fact one man (or woman) is trying to ‘beat up’ another man (or woman). And for them and their beliefs, it is archaic, barbaric and ‘wrong’. It feeds man’s baser instincts and hunger for violence.

    That’s the mind-set of these folks which is far harder to broaden than it is to educate on the injury statistics. They see it as base cage fighting more so than a martial arts competition.

  • numberonefan81

    Ya who cares. F#%k South Dakota

  • concerned citizen

    The Gov sounds like he has a few skeletons in his closet. I wonder what this cook is hiding somone should find out whats on his PC. Sick bastard!!!

  • SPIDER

    South Dakota Legislator YOU ABSOLUTELY SUCKSSSS :)

  • Lawdog1521

    It’s actually not a crime to hit someone outside of a sport if both parties agree. It’s called mutual combat. If you and your buddy want to stand on the front lawn punching each other, it’s perfectly legal.

  • b-soc

    Please tell me this guy was appointed and not elected. Something like this had to be known about him before the election that he was that closed minded and ignorant towards these sorts of things. But then again, over 50% of American’s did elect George W Bush………………………twice!

    • smh

      Obama…..twice as well, smh.

    • DamianCross

      The two guys opposing the MMA bill are Republican, which was Bush’s party.

      The guy who brought the MMA bill up in the first place is ALSO REPUBLICAN.

      Stop making dumb generalizations about an entire nation of people and do some research.

  • diazfan209

    Somehow this person (Hickey) has made the sport of MMA a scapegoat to blame for some major issues that are far beyond CTE; Public and Domestic Violence, Sexual crimes, and Human trafficking.

    You can argue about how MMA may have a connection to CTE, that’s fine, but to compare athletes and people who are entertained by said athletes to heinous criminals is absolutely pathetic.

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    It is very scary that these same people are making laws and deciding on education for the citizens of the state. These people were voted into these offices, that is even sicker. This is 2013, wake up people and take back your local government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charlie-Phillips/1234886916 Charlie Phillips

    of all the things to compare mma to. thats just wrong to compare any sport to child porn and this just proves how little they know about mma

  • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

    Anyone who compares anything to something as horrible as child porn is an idiot. We’re talking about a legitimate sport full of guys who dedicate their lives and discipline to martial arts. Most of these guys are college educated even. Phil Baroni and Rich Franklin are great examples. State commissions regulate the fights and always worry about fighters safety. This is mutual combat between to athletes who undergo medical screenings for their safety. And all the fans are different. Some are uneducated. Some just want blood and KO’s. Others love the beauty of the martial arts and appreciate the ko’s and submisisons or fights in general. Daugaard and Hickey are both obviously not educated in the sport of mma but idiots in general. It’s one thing to make a good argument but the child porn statement really took away any credibility.