One thing MMA does (or should do) a really good job of is keeping human beings grounded. It should remind us exactly who we are and remind us not to take ourselves so seriously. It’s a spectacle that thousands attend and even more watch on television; where two men are locked in a cage and told to try to harm each other for money. They can use punches, kicks, elbows, knees, grappling and submissions. And THAT is the fastest growing sport in the world.
(sorry for the length)
I found this article on MMA Weekly’s website. It’s an article talking about the media conference call battle between Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson. It opens with the notion that these two may be taking things too far leading into their fight at UFC 114 on May 29th.
“Evans and Jackson on Tuesday during a media conference call went after one another again, as they did several times during the reality show, but this time the path took a turn towards a controversial subject on the verge of hate speech.”
Hate speech? Ok, so surely they said some really, really bad things to each to deserve that title. Let’s see here…
After Rampage made a joke about a media member asking him a question with too many “big words” in it, Rashad had this comment for Rampage.
"It's just cause he says ignorant stuff, and he just perpetuates stupidness," said Evans. "’Oh don't use those big words, I don't know what that is.' Mother (expletive) you're not stupid, stop acting like you're stupid. Stop acting like just because you black, you stupid. I can't stand that attitude."
"He does this little sambo thing. He acts like, 'oh black on black crime, oh I'm stupid, you can't use big words like that.' Like you don't know what the (expletive) going on. I talked to this dude; this dude is pretty smart. He knows what's going on, but he just do this, 'oh it's comedy.' Why perpetuate the stereotype that you're stupid? You ain't stupid.
"Why perpetuate the stereotype that you can’t think? You know what I’m saying? You can’t – you don’t understand big words, you can’t read. All of that stupid stuff, man."
I don’t see any hate speech yet. Just a lot of Rashad stating the same thing over and over; that Rampage isn’t as stupid as he makes himself out to be. Rampage came back with this…
"Why you act all cocky and act all fake and be playing with your nipples and look all gay, so why do you that? Why you go that way? Why do you portray the stereotype of a black gay man if you don’t want to go anywhere, play with your nipples, and act all gay and want to wear them tight shorts? Why do you do that stuff?" barked Jackson.
"Because you gay. You play with your nipples and that’s why you and Queen Mo playing with each other. He got nipple rings and you play with your nipples."
Ok, so here Rampage is making some almost childish-humor remarks about Rashad’s pre-fight nipple tweak tradition. I gotta give him credit for the “Queen Mo” name drop more than anything. But any hate speech yet? No. Is it supposed to be hate speech because they’re talking about race? Or is it supposed to be hate speech because it’s two black men opening up on each other? Is calling someone gay hate speech now? If you said yes, you’re gay.
The article ends with this gut wrenching question:
“When does trash talk become political talk become social commentary become hate speech? Were Evans and Jackson over the line with the way they went after each other in a public forum?”
Let’s answer. When does trash talk become political talk? Well, in this circumstance, never. Did Rashad or Rampage bring to light the political views of the other? No. Did one of them make fun of the others political opinions? No. Next question, were Evans and Jackson over the line with the way they went after each other on the conference call? No. Because we asked for that, and so did the media.
What did you expect to happen? Did you watch TUF 10? Did you see how EVERYTIME they were anywhere close to each other they were in each other’s faces, dissing each other uncontrollably? Again, what exactly did you expect when these two men, who have been training their asses off the battle each other, get on a phone call with each other and begin to answer questions that YOU (the media) ask them? If they hated each other during TUF there’s no doubt they’re going to hate each other after having to go through training camp to prepare for the fight.
We, as MMA fans need to be very careful about how we take pre-fight trash talk or hype. We cannot fault these two men for disliking each other, therefore we cannot fault them for any comment they may make towards each other, because those are stemmed by the dislike between them. Basically, if you’re worried about being politically correct about everything then don’t have them associate. Period! Don’t have a conference call. Don’t have Primetime. Don’t have TUF 10. Don’t have a pre-fight press conference. Don’t have pre-fight interviews.
Oooooh, but then that takes away from the stories you can write about it all. It takes away all the attention your website can get leading up to the fight. If you want your stories and you want your website views then write compelling articles that detail the drama that has unfolded between the two athletes. Don’t try to get special attention by trying to make this seem like something it’s not. If you’re writing about MMA then you had better be an MMA fan. And if you’re an MMA fan then you know what you’re hearing and seeing is to hype a fight. And if you’re not an MMA fan then don’t write about it at all.
I enjoy reading many of the pre-fight articles that come out. Every once and a while there’s one that needs to be called upon and shut down and this is one of those. We’re supposed to be doing good for the sport of MMA, not turning it against itself. What happens during the pre-fight should stay in the pre-fight. Let the athletes and their managers decide what is and isn’t too far.