On April 15th 1947, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was called up from the minors to become the second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In doing so, he became Major League Baseball’s first African-American player and broke the long standing color barrier in American team sports.
A few days ago, the UFC announced that Ronda Jean Rousey will join their ranks in 2013. She will officially become America’s first female mixed martial art combatant to join the “Big Leagues.” Both Jackie and now Ronda have cemented themselves in American Sports-lore as historic barrier crushing figures. But can Rousey live up to the long shadow that is Jackie Robinson?
In the media, Robinson’s break into the big leagues was mostly accepted at the time. It was considered a sign that America is maturing and looking past things such as color and creed. However, fans and even teammates found it hard to accept the change.
It is known that many of the Brooklyn Dodgers created a small mutiny within the team. Many saying that they would rather sit out than the play along side a “negro.” But the Dodgers stayed true to their plan and kept playing Jackie at second.
When trying to break the discord within the team, Dodger manager is famously quoted as saying, “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.”
The key phrase in that quote stands true today for the UFC, “he can make us all rich…” Money is the reason that Dana White and the heads of the UFC are going forth with WMMA. Women in the sport are becoming more and more popular.
Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano before her, are stars that people can’t seem to get enough of. They are on covers of magazines, on late night shows, and even battling “regular” celebrities for the spotlight. Dana White has the foresight to realize that now is the time to capitalize on that fame and bring $$$ to the UFC. They have chosen Rousey to be their gender barrier crusher. Good choice too because along with her fame and good looks, the girl can actually fight!
We all know that Ronda will not come across such blatant hate and dislike from fans and fellow UFC fighters like Jackie Robinson did back in 1947. We live in a different era where society is more apt to accept change. However, it would be foolish to think that she will not run across a small fraction of people that truly believe women have no place in the octagon.
Those people do exist and their voices will be hurtful. She will also have to deal with fellow UFC male fighters that may think its all a joke (probably behind her back).
Time will tell if Ronda Rousey will handle these issues with the same class and dignity that Jackie Robinson did sixty years ago. We at MMA-Freak, believe that just as decades ago Jackie Robinson made it OK for young African-Americans to believe they could grow up to become ballplayers, today young girls can look to Ronda Rousey and believe they too can kick butt!
Welcome to a new era in MMA.
In the video below witness the progression of Ronda Rousey from her first amatuer mma bout all the way to her latest pro fight. She tosses Nick Diaz down at 1:40!
Video courtesy of YouTube up-loader MolesyMMA..
-Joe Luna, MMA Freak Staff Writer