Violence in Sports

For this last post, I would like to take a look at violence in sports settings.  Specifically, in MMA, and how it affects different aspects of multiple facets in life.  I want to take a look at these different aspects, how it negatively and positively affects certain things, and propose a solution to the argument of whether or not MMA and really any fighting sport should be banned.


MMA Fighters grappling

MMA, or Mixed Martial Arts, has been around since the early 80’s and has been reveled by young and old as one of the greatest sports of our time.  Two fighters are put into a hexagonal ring, or cage, and duke it out until one gives up, the round is over, or one isn’t standing anymore.  There are few rules to this sport, mainly prohibiting cheap shots and hits that would be potentially extremely damaging to the person on the receiving end of such a blow.

There is also a fairly obvious argument as to why people would want MMA banned;  it’s dangerous.  There have been a few cases in which professionally trained MMA fighters have suffered what have proved to be fatal blows.  There have been 7 reported deaths in “sanctioned” fights that have occurred since 2007 alone.  Some might argue that the sport of MMA itself is a question of ethics.  Theses people would argue that the sport is too violent, and goes against “how people ought to live, …preferred values and behavior” ( Kretchmar, 2005)

There is also an argument that because of the publicity the MMA events receive, and attention given to the sport by fans and onlookers, this will cause and encourage real violence among today’s youth and adults alike.  The argument states that people watching the MMA fights on tv, and those that hold it in high regard, will perceive the aggressive acts within the match as normal, acceptable, and even good.  The winner of the fight is celebrated, only after pummeling his opponent to the ground and beating him senseless.  This is one of the reasons so many people want MMA banned.  This argument is very paternalistic in nature.  It also states that because it may have detrimental effects on society as a whole, MMA should be banned; to benefit the greater amount of people by not being exposing them to this type of violence, yet “sacrificing” the choice and happiness of the fighters

So how does such a violent sport remain legal and regarded as “sport”?  And where do we draw the line of how much violence is too much violence?  Let’s look at a few different concepts.

One of the concepts we can look at is that participation in the sport is solely a choice made directly by the athletes participating in them.  They are not being thrown in a cage and forced to fight each other, they want to be there.  The athletes take into account all the dangers and risks that are associated with stepping into the cage, and do it anyway.  The danger aspect of the paternalistic argument of saving the fighters from injuring themselves is worthless.  I would be absolutely livid if someone came up to me and told me I couldn’t snowboard because it’ too dangerous.  I understand it is for protection and safety, but ultimately the decision is mine.  We can also look to the Mill’s Harm Principle to criticize the paternalistic argument.  It states that the only reason why we should interfere paternalistically is for the protection of others.  In this case, we can argue that the only one’s being “harmed” in MMA are the athletes, who choose to do so. 

One of the best things, I think, is detach the acts performed in sport Another of the concepts of why MMA should remain in tact, is that the sport itself has so many fans that are willing to spend money on tickets, hotel rooms, etc. to watch fights and root for their favorite fighters, brings in a lot of money to the corporations and even the cities these events are held in.  If the athletes are going to choose to participate in the sport, and the fights are sanctioned, this can put a lot of money in to the local economy.

Despite what skeptics might think about the aspect of MMA that is pure brute strength, and that the athletes are just out to demolish the other fighter, I propose this video:

“The culture of this sport is not one of violence but a culture of personal growth. Furthermore this is not only personal growth in the purely physical or psychological sense but holistic personal growth (i.e. personal growth with physical, psychological, social, spiritual and educational dimensions).”  (Attsavage, 2014)  This shows that what people might perceive as acts of violence for the sake of being violent, are false.  Which leads us to my solution.

My view on the issue is that we should not interfere with athletes that choose to participate in the sport of boxing, but rather we could detach the sport from violence, stating it is the “constrained use of force”, in this specific situation.  By doing this, the sport will not be associated with violence in real life, but rather a fight of strength and tactics to see who can best their opponent.  This would deter children from acts of violence currently associated with MMA.  By teaching them the values of sportsmanship, and that the force shown in this act is only to be demonstrated within certain constraints of this MMA fight, we are no longer putting value in the violence they see.  “If society should not glorify violence, and if violence in sports might contribute however indirectly to greater tolerance and commission of violence throughout society, or to the erosion of defensible community standards, we can be led by such considerations to freely, rationally, and autonomously choose to reduce the level of violence in sports”. (Simon, 1991)

Works Cited

Kretchmar, R. Scott, “Practical Philosophy of Sport and Physical Activity.” 2nd Edition. Human Kinetics (2005):183-204 Print.

Simon, Robert L, “Fair Play: Sports, Values, and Society.”  Westview Press (1991) Print.

Attsavage,  “American Top Team.” Web.


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