EDITORIAL – A basic in life I always heard was “don’t talk about religion and politics.” Now, I don’t personally subscribe to that point of view (perhaps I should), but I do think that entertainment doesn’t mix well with politics.
I think a good example of that is the current NFL kneeling debacle. I don’t want to get into who’s right or wrong, but it doesn’t make good business sense to enter a polarizing subject into your product that is likely to isolate a large percentage of your paying customers, regardless of whether it’s a Right or Left issue.
And since my business is the business of MMA, I can’t help but stop to think that what is currently happening in the NFL could happen in my neck of the woods.
First of all, everyone has an opinion and everyone has a grievance, no matter how big or how small, if they just look deep enough. So there is no doubt in my mind that there are MMA fighters who don’t like something that is going on, whichever part of the political spectrum in which they reside. There have been MMA fighters who have publicized their personal concerns, but it has never embroiled the entire sport into a frenzy.
1) The centerpiece of the NFL controversy is that players are using the U.S. national anthem to voice their opposition. The national anthem of course being an iconic symbol of freedom and Americanism, a symbol that is meant to bring all Americans together. You step on the flag, disrespect the anthem, or shoot a bald eagle, you are going to upset a lot of people.
2) UFC is not America’s sport, but football is. You might even say as American as football and apple pie are, the NFL dwarfs Major League Baseball (MLB) in being America’s favorite pastime. The UFC has opted not to make a custom of starting its events with the national anthem, likely because MMA’s DNA is spread throughout many cultures internationally, whereas football is specific to the American experience.
3) The Media. Let’s face it; would this situation have gotten this far if it wasn’t for the frenzied media pushing it out there? I think not. The NFL commands many more eyeballs and marketshare of the American psyche than does MMA, so there is more incentive for the pundits and talking heads to blather on about it. MMA and the UFC, no matter how big it has gotten, is still a tick compared to the NFL beast, at least in America.
4) UFC now has uniforms, which eliminates the options of getting out someone’s message or revolutionary stance. No iconic symbol to snub and no tool to expose your message. The only way an athlete in the octagon is going to get his or her message out is to be vocal, but you need a microphone to do that. And Bruce Buffer isn’t giving up his. Of course, everyone has the availability of social media. Many fighters have and do get their message out that way, but again, I circle around to the mainstream media getting behind it to gain momentum and it isn’t going to happen.
So for now we get to be entertained or not by the sideshow circus that is growing within the NFL, with no inkling of such an uprising within our beloved MMA. For me, that’s okay, I like to keep my peas and pork separate on the plate and just enjoy my entertainment without the worries of the world blocking the kicks and punches.