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Mixed martial arts? Why not?

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Mixed martial arts? Why not?

Please enjoy this very logical, insightful article by Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, the New York Secretary of State. In it she discusses the pro's and con's of legalizing MMA in New York. It's nice to hear what "other" NY State officials are thinking and to get a sense of their reasoning, without feeling the need to defend the sport of mixed martial arts at the end! No accusations, no innuendos -- just clear, logical, well-articulated thinking. As follows:

"Gov. David Paterson has proposed legalizing and regulating mixed martial arts. Some New Yorkers, including some who have concerns about the safety aspects in this sport, disagree with that plan.

While I respect that position, I believe that legalizing these competitions presents an opportunity for regulating the sport while allowing the state to realize the economic benefits of hosting MMA competitions.

I believe this is a reasoned middle ground between retaining the ban on MMA and other "combative sports" -- which is economically detrimental to us but beneficial to Connecticut, New Jersey and the other 40 states that have already legalized them -- and abandoning that ban. That would open the door to unregulated fights that flout the existence of athletic commissions and the health and safety rules they enforce.

The governor's proposal would build upon the New York State Athletic Commission's strong track record of ensuring fair competition and a reasonable degree of safety in overseeing professional boxing. As with boxing, the commission would require pre-licensing and pre-fight and post-fight physical, neurological and psychological examinations for all MMA competitors. The commission would test for performance enhancing drugs -- as done in boxing, baseball, football and the Olympics -- and would require that protective gear be worn by all participants.

As we have seen through the experiences of 42 other states, the concerns and controversies surrounding MMA authorization subside once people witness the effect of proper regulation on the conduct of the sport. When properly regulated, professional MMA showcases fair and disciplined bona-fide athletic competition. A goal of legalizing MMA is to cut down on the number of poorly regulated or unregulated knockoffs that put unlicensed, unprepared individuals in harm's way. By adopting the unified rules of MMA, which have become the gold standard for state regulatory bodies, we aim to eliminate the potential for no-holds-barred style events -- and maintain the strict prohibition on such events.

Further, the commission would impose mandatory suspensions upon fighters who suffer a significant injury during a fight and a mandatory waiting period between participation in matches.

The commission's medical advisory board -- nine physicians with expertise in sports medicine -- would be intimately involved in ensuring the highest levels of health and safety are maintained before, during and after the fight. They would develop medical education programs for commission staff and officials so that serious health and safety risks may be readily identified, minimized and prevented.

A commission-designated physician would be present at every MMA competition and would be able to stop a match if he or she believed a competitor had received severe punishment or was in danger of serious physical injury. The referee would have the authority to stop a match under such circumstances, as well.

We should not minimize the economic impact of MMA matches, especially on the cities that host these events. At a 2007 MMA match in Columbus, Ohio, some 40 percent of attendees came from outside of the state. That means busy hotels, restaurants and downtowns.

A 2008 study conducted by HR&A Advisors estimated that a single MMA competition in upstate New York would inject $5.2 million into the local economy; an event downstate would lead to more than twice as much economic activity. Not only would MMA create much needed tax revenue, but it would also lead to creation and retention of dozens, if not hundreds, of service jobs. (Emphasis added)

Based on our experience regulating professional boxing in New York and on conversations with top regulators from more than a dozen other states that regulate MMA, I believe this sport, when properly regulated, will provide New Yorkers with financial and sports entertainment value while maintaining high standards regarding the safety and health of participants.

The governor has made the right decision in his effort to bring MMA to New York." (Emphasis added. End of article.)

Note per her research this tidbit "At a 2007 MMA match in Columbus, Ohio, some 40 percent of attendees came from outside of the state...". Interesting, as New Jersey has been hosting MMA fight events for years. Talk to anyone involved in the MMA-industry in NY and guess where they do business? NJ, of course. From fighters to promoters to event specialists to fans - all that income goes over to NJ. New York is losing potentially millions of dollars annually, due to their unwillingness to legalize MMA. So...good point.

It is obvious Ms. Cortes-Vazquez has not only done her homework, but she is passionate about New York and doing what's right for the state and its citizens. If I lived in NY, I'd be pleased to have someone like her as the Secretary of State - she's got a lot of common sense. Kudos to Ms. Cortes-Vazquez for this insightful article. (Reprinted with permission.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 February 2010 01:30
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