New York City- a place where eight million people of different races, creed and orientations share a city only 300 sq. miles large. I grew up there and because of that, I’m proud to say that I’m a bit of a social liberalist. I believe that our views change throughout history because we grow as a society. We have to accept those changes or else become relics of our own stubbornness. America is the great nation is it because of its adaptability to change, in fact its built into our constitution.
In the 60’s Bob Dylan wrote, “the times, they are a changing…” and five decades later that quote is now hitting true for the sport of MMA.
Hardcore fans of the UFC are begrudgedly coming across many changes in the sport as it tries to grow into the mainstream. At the moment, MMA is the quickest growing sport in the nation and is poised to pass NHL hockey as one of the nations top five most watched sport. The heads of the UFC are trying to capitalize on this newfound popularity while also continuing to look for ways to bring in new fans. The acceptance of women into the UFC is one of the changes that Dana White feels may spark interest from the casual fan and with that bring in more money. Some think this great and momentous, while others think of it as a gimmick and find it ridiculous to the sport.
Being the social liberalist that I am, I feel that,“Women in the UFC” is another great moment in American Sports History. In fact, I recently wrote an article comparing Ronda Rousey to Jackie Robinson’s entry to Major League Baseball. I didnt dig too deep into the social ramifications of her moment within that story because I felt (naively) that everyone would agree with me that it was the right thing for the UFC. However, I did mention that Rousey would have to come across criticism from male fighters from within the UFC.
Perfectly timed, a week later GSP opened his mouth and said, “I’m happy for the girls that fight, but me personally, I have a hard time watching the girls fight. It’s the way I grew up maybe, the mentality, I’m different, I’m old school, but I have a hard time watching girls fighting. It’s hard for me.”
Needless to say that quote met harsh critism from women fighters, specifically Ronda Rousey herself. She has gone on many interviews since then and in true “Rowdy” Rousey fashion has trashed Georges St Pierre for being tactless with his words.
Her most eloquant words were, “these girls when they go out to fight, they’re pouring their hearts out, they deserve to be celebrated and not just merely tolerated.”
Ronda Rousey has been accused by her critics of saying things that are just outlandish and quote worthy just to catch attention from the media. While we can agree that there may be truth to that critism, the girl wears her heart on her sleeve and is not afraid of saying what she feels. I believe that she mistakenly hit the nail on the head when she mentioned the word “tolerated” in the above quote.
America has had a major issues with tolerance throughout its history. We in the media have to be aware of how our opinions and words may have weight in a historical sense. In the 1920′s women were given the right to vote. Can you easily imagine hearing a man say, “ It’s the way I grew up maybe, the mentality, I’m different, I’m old school, but I have a hard time watching girls vote for our President. It’s hard for me.” Or lets go back in time further to 1865, can that same quote be applied to a man having a hard time watching a black no longer be a slave? Even in today’s world, that mentality still exists. I have friends today that believe, “I’m old school and dont think that gays should marry.” Remember that we fighters and analysts are in the media, there are children that listen to our words. And children are not born with such harsh beliefs.
Comedian Denis Leary has a bit where he is quoted as saying, “ Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”
I do realize that changes in society can be extremely difficult to deal with, but I do feel that we as Americans have to realize those changes are what make this country great. We’re forever moving forward as a society. I for one welcome women to the UFC. While I wouldn’t want my sister getting punched for a living, I also wouldn’t want my brother being punched for a living either. However, it is good live in a country where they can make that choice for themselves.
This article is completely my opinion; it certainly does not reflect the opinion of MMA-Freak as a whole. I had a strong desire to write this because I felt someone had to. Lots of quotes and comments have been tossed around the last few weeks on the topic of women fighting in combat sports.Some of those comments have come from the top athletes in the sport and some have been voiced right here by writers of MMA-Freak. So with that said, Ill continue on by saying that I do not fault someone for his or her thoughts,Im just writing this as my rebuttal.