Sport deserves better from city

Resident upset over Vernon's ban of mixed martial arts events

How would you feel if I told you that Canadian football leagues and hockey leagues would be banned from Vernon?

Well, if you think that is over the top and would never be possible to accomplish locally, then you will understand the reaction I had when mixed martial arts was announced to be all but banished from our land.

As a 22-year-old Nintendo Nerd whose only source of exercise is long-distance running, swimming, and tanning, I am the last person pegged to be a MMA fan. But since researching the sport and analyzing it three years ago while attending UBCO, I was fascinated that this had become the fourth most popular sport in our nation.

Sadly, it is also the most misunderstood sport in our society.

The current reasoning for banning the sport, much like the reasons given by people who either support or oppose the construction of the sports complex by Okanagan College, is fragile at best. For some reason, we are very close minded when it comes to sports issues. As someone who quit baseball when he was 10 and never played an organized sport again, my biggest concern with banning MMA is that the logic given for this decision is not properly aligned.

For instance, the main point highlighted recently is because of “confidential information supplied to us.” If a politician, prosecutor, or anyone had said that we would all find it to be absurd. “Oh, your argument for this claim is it is a secret? Well, I cannot argue that. I concede.”

I know MMA is a sport that hooked people into it back in 2005 to 2009. Many of us are between the ages of 20 to 40. In a retirement community such as Vernon, our voices are likely not considered relevant to the public. We don’t vote, we are apathetic, and many of us still live with our parents. I know I am not alone there.

MMA is not about injuring your opponent. The A stands for arts. These are people who find structure, discipline, inner peace, self-esteem, and confidence from practicing this sport. They showcase their skills and unless the person is a total jerk, they respect their opponents infinitely.

Canadian football and hockey have equally exhausting training rituals. In hockey, the goal is not to injure your opponent, but yet nobody is banning hockey for those silly fights every period that have nothing to do with the sport itself.

In an elderly community, Canada’s hockey grants senseless violence a free pass. If the referee calls a fight to be finished in MMA, and a fighter punching the opponent post-fight, that fighter is banned from the promotion for life. They are not stuck in the penalty box for five minutes as the crowd cheers for their circus act.

And the people who are banning this sport sound like the only MMA they have watched is UFC Ultimate Knockouts Volume 1. Every fight does not end with a broken cornea or a fractured leg. Many of these fights are holding each other against the fence or holding their opponent on the ground for three rounds with only a few scratches in the process.

These fighters are typically cleared and can return for another bout within two if they wish.

But please. Mixed Martial Artists are not members of Raul Julia’s Shadaloo Empire from Street Fighter: The Movie, nor are they blood thirsty creatures. These are individuals whose lives have been saved due to practicing MMA. If you think MMA fighters are getting too hurt in local events, then you need referees who are smart enough to stop a fight earlier or a doctor who is willing to make the call to stop the fight. Fans like myself support the longevity of the fighter. We are rarely upset by referee or doctor’s stoppages. Especially in local events where 99% of these fighters will never make it anywhere near the UFC.

Please do not make this another subject of sporting ridicule in the sequel to Baseketball. I need to know that people who make decisions locally on my behalf are putting thought and care into what they do rather than potentially being manipulated by a well-respected minority who may be miseducated on their opinions.

Thank you for putting up with the counter-points of a 22 year old anime lover.


Logan Saunders