Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fight the urge

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I just took a glance at the main page for SI.com only to find a big splashy spread on some MMA (mixed martial art) fight that was held last night. Out of curiosity I checked out the ESPN main page and, sure enough, big splashy MMA coverage up front. This is what we have come to as a society---back to cage fighting. In the year 2009, human beings cannot find a better way to entertain themselves than to put two roided freaks into a cage and let them beat each other into submission? Seriously? And the “hey, it’s what the people want and we’ll cater to the lowest common denominator if it will make us a buck” media cannot find anything better to put on the front page or on the TV screen? I have mixed emotions about this last part---on the one hand, I have a philosophical problem with publicizing and encouraging fighting but, on the other, I find it incredibly funny that two days before the MLB All Star Game the nation’s foremost sports reporting agencies relegated baseball to a distant third behind cage fighting and NASCAR. This should give you an indication of how far baseball has (deservingly) fallen---the stewards of the game must be proud.

Anyway, I have contemplated this for years now as I watched, somewhat gladly, boxing die a slow death in the public arena. I used to follow boxing, you know. I remember growing up fascinated with the sport (or the sweet science as it used to be called). I was an unabashed fan (who wasn’t?) of Muhammad Ali. I remember speculating, idly and somewhat foolishly, if Teofilo Stevenson would have a chance against Ali if he ever turned pro. I remember prancing around in the living room on summer afternoons, when it was too hot to go play outside, punching the shadows and chanting “I float like a butterfly, I sting like a bee……”. I remember reading about how Larry Holmes would never get the credit for how good a fighter he was, as none of the bigwigs would fight him in his prime. I remember being at once thrilled and nauseated by the sheer savagery of Mike Tyson when he burst upon the scene --- watching the highlights of his KOs were like watching a bad wreck; it turned your stomach but somehow, perversely, you couldn’t not watch it.

Then I grew up. At some point, and I cannot pinpoint exactly when, it occurred to me that we should be better than this. Sure, a lot of sports are physical and some, like football, are even occasionally violent. But boxing (and now the MMA-type crap) differed from other physical sports in a crucial way --- violence is not incidental to the sport--- rather, the object of a fighting sport is to subjugate the opponent by inflicting pain and physical harm. At some point in my maturation this became philosophically unacceptable to me. I think that if we condone this concept (that it is somehow not just OK but even glorious to beat another human being into submission) in even a controlled arena, we end up, to some degree, condoning all physical abuse --- the kind that occurs in domestic violence, for instance, as in all these cases it is the twisted mind of the abuser using physical force to dominate his or her arena.

I think it is time to stop catering to our bloodlust. The only fighting we should be doing is against the urge to fight.

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7 comments:

scribbler50 said...

Great post, Stache, and as always well said. I have to admit though (unlike you) I haven't matured to the point where I could totally turn my back on the (sport?) of boxing. Is it savage? Yes. But at least in boxing, and I only mention this as it relates to this goddam cage fighting, a ref will jump in when a boxer's in trouble whereas in the other it's more like a barroom brawl where a guy can get pounded senseless while he's down. Scary!

But I will admit that boxing has lost most of its luster for me over the years. It used to be you saw a fighter coming up on TV, you knew who he was and watched him progress and by the time he was ready to challenge for the title you might have a rooting interest. Not the case now, it's an almost unknown sometimes who's fighting for the title and he's doing it on this Pay Per Fucking View. And I'll never put a dime into one of those events because I'll never put a dime in Don Fucking King or Bob Fucking Arum's pockets. Thieves and criminals all. But you're right in your overall point, my friend, the world would be better off without boxing and the message it sends. I just haven't totally gotten that message yet.

And as a postscript... we lost two of the good guys from boxing quite recently. Gatti over the week-end (I'm guessing he was murdered because he was about to testify) and the classy Alexis Arguyo (an apparent suicide). So I guess to further make your point, eliminating boxing would take those overseeing thugs out of play as well. Later, Pal!

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

I'd argue that football is simply boxing with distractions. I dislike it for the same reason.

Anonymoustache said...

Scrib50,
Thanks for the kind comments. I do get your stance on boxing. While I haven't watched a fight in ages, and won't, when I think of boxing I do so somewhat wistfully.
Although, like you pointed out so well, assholes like Don King haven't left much to miss, have they?

Dr. J.,
The object of the game of football is not to beat literally) on the opponent, preferably around the head region, till they either pass out or give up. In fact, physical abuse (by definition uncalled for and undefendable violence) is punishable by a variety of punishments, including monetary fines and suspensions.

Violence is a part of nature, of life. We all draw our boundary lines differently, when it comes to violence and sport. For me, the line falls short of where violence becomes the sole purpose of the activity. I think that football, to even its harshest critics, would not meet that criterion.

scribbler50 said...

Turns out I was wrong about why Gatti was killed. I just read where they arrested his damn wife. Miss Marple, whom I just watched on the brilliant new series of the Dame on PBS, would be ashamed of me for jumping to conclusions like that.

Pip Pip, old chap!

Suzan said...

Thank you, kind sir, for addressing this popular new mayhem that the un-militarily-connected section of the youth population can now indulge in to keep their chaos centers sharp.

I knew a bagger at a Food Lion last summer who tried to tell me (aghast and dismayed - but trying to hide it to hear more about how the culture had further devalued personal time and self esteem) about the excitement of it and how much he was looking forward to distinguishing himself in the coming competitions.

I felt so sorry for him (an 18-year-old member of the truly "lost generation"), but could not get him to listen to why this was not a good venture.

The Circus Maximus is here already folks.

S

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