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Editor at Large

Money: It's why barbaric sports won't be banned

A couple of decades ago in another career, I wrote an editorial saying that one could make a good case for banning football.

The primary reason was the threat of injury. And this was before the long-term effects of concussions became an everyday discussion in the world of sports.

Regardless, back then I took heat from football people who talked about how the sport builds character.

Having attempted to play football in high school, I concur that it does build one’s character. But so does playing in the band. Or playing chess.

Tackle football, of course, will never be banned at the collegiate or professional level because of the money that would be lost. Big-time football helps to drive the economy in many ways.

In turn, high school football likely will not be banned because it is the pipeline for collegiate and pro football.

But there are two other sports that really should be outlawed: boxing and mixed martial arts.

Whereas the goal of football is to score points, not to harm the opponent, the goal of these other two sports is expressly that: to injure, to maim, to destroy.

If you like blood and brutal kicks to the head, watch an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout – or open your cellphone bill (but that’s another story).

And boxing is called the sweet science, but there is nothing sugary about it – unless you like concussions and broken noses and jaws. Once, I covered a pro boxing match from the front row; by the third round, blood was splattered on my notebook.

Why does a civilized society permit these barbaric sports to exist?

The answer, again, is money.

About 15 years ago, our legislative leaders missed their chance to ban mixed martial arts, which was not yet a mainstream sport. Today it’s too late, as the UFC series now rules MMA and has become an MMM: money making machine.

No one would dare take down the UFC juggernaut.

Boxing, though, could be vulnerable. UFC’s popularity is at the expense of boxing’s fandom, particularly among America’s young adults and youth. As older generations die off, boxing could become an afterthought in the American sports landscape.

Perhaps, in time, boxing will be knocked out.

Meanwhile, stay away from the ring. And the cage.


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