The UFC and Gay Marriage

***Hey guys, I wrote this a while back for my college's newspaper. Thought I'd share it. Let me know you guys think. Some of the stuff you guys probably know, but I wrote it for an audience uneducated about MMA.

A few months back, New York legalized gay marriage. The passage of the Marriage Equality Act was hailed as a victory for gay rights by some, but protested by others. Now, I could care less about who marries who. In fact, I consider it none of my business (or the government’s). However, isn’t gay marriage a far more controversial issue than the UFC?

UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship for those of you who are unaware with the world’s fastest-growing sport, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Despite over a decade of running a safe, profitable, and professional business, the UFC isn’t allowed to hold an event in New York. Why? Because MMA is illegal in New York.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t gay marriage a far more controversial issue than a sport that combines kickboxing, wrestling, grappling, and other forms of combat? Gay marriage sparks debate over homosexuality, gay rights, civil rights, religious views of marriage, and the government’s involvement in marriage. Yet, MMA failed to be legalized (again) in New York, but the Marriage Equality Act passed. Although MMA and gay marriage are two seemingly unconnected issues, the way they were handled by the politicians should be examined.

I've lived in New York all my life and continue to hate it. The bureaucrats are behind on everything. With regards to the legality of MMA, this is nothing but business as usual for New York politicians. New York is one of the last three remaining states to legalize MMA. 45 other states have legalized it (the other two don’t have athletic commissions). But in some really, really, really, strange way, New York is ahead of the trend of legalizing gay marriage.

Currently, there are only six states where homosexual couples can legally wed. On the gay marriage issue, New York is one of the first states to legalize it, but with MMA they are one of the last. It wasn’t exactly easy for the Marriage Equality Act to pass too. Both issues have had to swim through a lot of red tape in order to pass. It’s just, MMA is voted down every year. One needs to ask: do New York politicians have more of a beef with MMA than gay marriage?

It depends.

Governor Cuomo and former Governor Patterson said they would legalize MMA if the bill came to their desk. Unfortunately for fight fans like myself, the state assembly consistently blocks it, despite research showing MMA would boost the state’s horrible economy by millions of dollars. Other New York politicians, like Bob O’Reilly, have huge problems with MMA—even though their reasons are completely illogical.

When asked what he thought about the UFC now providing health insurance to all of their fighters, O’Reilly said, “I think it’s a positive thing, but I don’t think it’s a positive step. In the sense that it doesn’t address the systematic problems with MMA.” What are MMA’s “systematic problems” according to O’Reilly? Injuries. With that logic, automobiles should be illegl too.

Does he know that New York is one of the most famous boxing cities in the world? Does he know the history of Madison Square Garden? I love boxing, but it’s far more dangerous than MMA. From the years of 1998-2006, there were 70 deaths inside a boxing ring. In that same time period, MMA had only one death. One might argue that there are more boxing events behind held around the world than MMA events. However, with the growth of MMA, the ratios of death per sport have stayed the same.

It’s not surprising that MMA is illegal in New York. It’s just really frustrating. Fighters and fight fans have to travel to New Jersey if they want to see an MMA fight live, or just settle for watching it on TV. But hey, there’s always next year.

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