In a new poll released this week the Siena Research Institute found that support for legalized MMA in New York was holding steady at 39% in favor as they found last March. However, the poll also notes an increase in opposition from 41% to 48%. At face value, this may seem troubling. However, like Siena's previous poll, it is poorly crafted research. The poll does not target MMA specifically, but sneakily tucks a single question on topic of MMA legalization into a portion of the poll primarily concerned with the dangers of legalized gambling in New York. Additionally, MMA is not given the same weight as other sports in the general sporting questions regarding favorite athlete, favorite sport, etc. In fact MMA is not even included as an answer option.
Furthermore, like Siena's poll last March, the wording on the MMA specific question reads:
Mixed Martial Arts, known by some as cage fighting or ultimate fighting. Supporters say it should be legal in the State of New York. Mixed martial arts or MMA is already legal in many states and if legal here in New York would generate fan interest, direct revenues and would be an engine of economic development. Opponents say MMA is dangerous, even barbaric and we should not allow such a violent sport to be practiced here in New York. Do you side with the supporters of MMA or with the opponents?Unfortunately, the good people at Siena have not bothered to update their question or methods. Inasmuch, my criticism remains the same as it was last March. In the case of this study, as is often the case, the poll question suggests that MMA is dangerous, barbaric, and violent. It refers to our sport as "cage fighting" and "ultimate fighting," which conjure much more violent images of our sport (not to mention that these are not what our sport is called). The only counter argument offered is essentially that the sport is legal in "many" other states (not MOST other states as is the case) and could stand to make New York State some money. Siena is asking people to decide between violence and money. There is no suggestion that MMA is, in fact, very safe; much safer than many other popular sports noted in the poll. In my opinion, this poll was destined to show lack of support for MMA in New York.
Peter Lampasona of US Combat Sports points out problems with this study in the way Siena tucked the topic of MMA legalization in with the gambling questions:
Fully half of the questions on the survey are actually about if sports gambling should be legal in New York. MMA only comes up once. After a full page of statements asking if casino gambling is worth the money or damaging to the community, there is a sudden track jump to [MMA].
In the survey question, the positives of MMA have nothing to do with what actually happens training or competing. All support is related to money. Yet the cons are all directed at what actually is happening in the cage, implying that MMA as a pursuit for the athletes has no virtue.
Placed neatly after the questions about casino gambling, it's clear that the survey is asking only one question: “Would you rather make money or help your community?” Like gambling, the viewing of MMA in this survey is clearly depicted as a vice.Once again, Siena has added feul to the fire of illogical resistance to the professional sport of MMA in the state of New York.
Read the poll result summary here
Read the complete data summary here