Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why we did not get MMA this year

Unfortunately, as you may know by now, the legislation that would have legalized mixed martial arts in New York State stalled out in the Assembly (as it did in 2010); never making it through the required Ways & Means Committee by the end of the legislative calendar on June 20, 2011.

Despite a clear mandate by the people of New York, the Senate, and members of the Assembly, Chairman Herman D. Farrell Jr. of the Way & Means Committee blocked the legislation by failing to present it to his committee for review. Farrell, a known opponent of mixed martial arts, chose to ignore the mandate set in front of him by his peers and the people of New York and in so doing, trampled the integrity of the legislative process.

Had Farrell put his personal prejudice against mixed martial arts aside and allowed the legislation to be reviewed by his committee, it is generally believed that bill would have passed as it did in the Assembly's Codes and Parks, Tourism, and Sports Development Committees. Nevertheless, even if it had passed through Ways & Means, the legislation would still have had to get to the Assembly floor for a vote. That would required the blessing of another long time opponent of mixed martial arts, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

In the wake of yet another major setback for mixed martial arts in New York, false rationalizations and narratives are already circulating. People are already suggesting that we sit back and wait till next year. Some are even questioning if New York MMA matters any longer. Once again the unions in Vegas are being falsely blamed for New York's inability to pass the legislation. Once again Assemblyman Bob Reilly, like Speaker Sheldon Silver before him, is falsely stating there was not enough support for the bill to necessitate putting it up for a vote.

The truth is often simpler than all the conspiracy theorists, lobbyists, and power brokers would have you believe. As is often the case, it is generally the simplest hypothesis which proves to be true. And in this case, the truth is very simple: mixed martial arts is not in New York because a few old, ignorant, and powerful politicians don't want it to be.

I recently received an e-mail in response to my Assembly memo in support of mixed martial arts. The e-mail was from Assemblyman Joel Miller and demonstrates what it is we are really up against in Albany. We are not up against unions or boxing fans or lack of support from our legislators. Mixed martial arts in New York is being held back by one thing: the ignorance of a few powerful men. Here is an example of such ignorance:
June15, 2011

Dear Constituent,
This is in response to your letter regarding Assembly Bill A4146. As I understand it, this bill would establish protocols for combative sports, authorize and tax gross receipts for mixed martial arts events. Thank you for taking the time to write and advise me of your views and concerns. 
Mixed Martial Arts is a brutal activity. These fighters should not be viewed as role models by our youth. Even though it is not known where the Governor currently stands on this issue, it would be better to cut spending than to allow these activities to be conducted and viewed in auditoriums or on TV, which could encourage immature individuals to imitate this behavior.
This bill was referred to the Ways & Means Committee on June 13, 2011. Should it come to the floor of the Assembly for a full vote, I will be voting in opposition. 

If either my staff or I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us at 845-463-1635 or via email at millerj@assembly.state.ny.us.

Thank you again for writing.


Joel M. Miller
Member of Assembly
102nd Assembly District

So, what now? Do we sit back and wait until 2012 to begin again? No.

To sit back and wait now will squash all the headway and progress we supporters of mixed martial arts have made this year. In fact, to stop now would help our opponents in their goal of keeping our sport out of New York. The fact of the matter is we have momentum and a pulpit now. We need to keep up the pressure now. To quit now is to give up.

Now is when we need to fight harder, push the message more, and keep the issue alive. When January 2012 comes around, our legislators need to be on board, educated, an aware of this issue. Mixed martial arts needs to be front and center on their minds as it is now. We need to push this issue all summer and winter. This is where we will see if we have the drive to fight for our sport.

Will you keep fighting, keep sending e-mails, keep correcting the record? I hope so because if you don't, we have truly lost.

Stephen Koepfer


  1. That's not what Occam's Razor means, but thanks for giving me more material for my blog. http://wp.me/pDt0H-2d

  2. As for some positive reinforcement, good article. :-)

  3. Sorry for multiple comments, but why is it that these anti-MMA politicians never distinguish boxing from MMA? Why is it that MMA will encourage immature dirtbags to beat up their neighbors, but boxing won't? What about judo? Either violence-turned-sport is a problem or it isn't. Be consistent.

    Moreover, I read recently that the bill's sponsor was told by Governor Cuomo, "If you get a bill on my desk, I'll sign it," (cite unavailable) so Assemblyman Miller's claim that the Governor's opinion is unknown is at beast willful blindness on his part, and at worst downright dishonesty. Of course, it's also irrelevant unless Assemblyman Miller believes that the bill couldn't survive a veto. If it's the right thing to do, it's failure should be on Governor Cuomo's hands, not the legislature.

    Inconsistency suggests hypocrisy.

  4. Thanks for the correction. I edited the post to reflect my error.

    Yes, indeed. Will inconsistency in my opinion.