Money or Safety: Who Wins?

Mixed Martial Arts combines the skills needed in wresting, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu into one violent sport.  In this century, MMA has gained popularity and consequently been legalized in most of America.  This past week, the New York legislature, Governor Cuomo and the State Athletic Commission entered the cage.

While MMA matches have been going on in New York for some years, legalization means that there will be regulations.  Specifically, these regulations include classifying 31 Acts that constitute a foul in the arena and would result in “disqualification from a mixed martial arts contest or exhibition… as determined by the referee.”  Five of these fouls specifically involve violence to the brain: Butting with the head, striking to… the back of the head, kicking the head of a grounded opponent, kneeing the head of a grounded opponent, and spiking an opponent to the floor surface on his head or neck.  Other rules are not specifically directed to the head, but could easily result in head trauma, such as “attacking an opponent on or during a break”.  Additionally, “New York [is] to Require $1 Million Brain-Injury Coverage for Mixed Martial Artist,” to be provided by the promoters.

However, the safety of the athletes was not directly the reason of the legalization… it was the money.  It is estimated that legalizing MMA will bring $140 million to New York in economic growth.

In covering this story, Forbes magazine notes that, “insurance doesn’t provide for fighter safety.  It provides compensation after fighter safety has failed.”  (On the other hand, the NYS Athletic Commission says it, “has taken another step toward ensuring the health, safety and integrity of its athletes and event.”)  Some people still want the sport banned.  Currently, the State is seeking comments from the public on this issue.  The proposed legislation can be found on this link and comments can be submitted for review until August 27, 2016.

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