Selections from Upstate & Downstate NY Newspaper Editorials
April 29, 2013
Mixed martial arts is legal in 48 of 50 states*. But not in New York. It’s not for lack of support. Far from it: The latest bill to clear the state Senate has 64 Assembly co-sponsors (almost a majority itself), not to mention encouraging words from Gov. Cuomo. But Speaker Silver has never allowed a vote.
As a consequence, millions that might flow into Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center now go to Newark’s Prudential Center. Shouldn’t New York get a slice of that pie?
That would be especially valuable upstate. Venues from Albany to Syracuse to Rochester all stand to benefit from the audiences, revenues — and jobs — that these events generate. Just think of the Canadians who would flock to Buffalo for a fight featuring fellow Canadian St-Pierre.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
May 30, 2013
New York’s status as one of only two states yet to sanction professional mixed martial arts events is a dubious one — and it’s costly*. As the end of the 2013 session nears, the Legislature should finally give America’s fastest growing sport a fair hearing.
For the fourth time, the state Senate overwhelmingly voted this year to permit MMA. Outdated arguments against legalizing the sport, which too often boil down to individual fancy, should no longer block the matter from reaching the Assembly floor.
While this page consistently stands against coarse culture and violence, today’s productions by organizations such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator are a far cry from the no-holds-barred brawls of decades past.
New York residents, for their part, have worked around lawmakers. Several of MMA’s most captivating stars, including Rochester native Jon Jones, train and live in this state. Their fans are among the thousands who pour across state lines to see their idols compete in spots like Newark, N.J., and Toronto. Let’s keep their dollars here.
Mixed martial arts is an acquired taste. It is a combat sport that includes boxing, judo, wrestling and kickboxing. But honestly, is mixed martial arts really so much more violent than pro football or boxing, which are legal despite leaving scores of former players to cope with head injuries, arthritis and other chronic disabilities?
Critics of violence in contact sports might better argue against youth football than mixed martial arts, if they're really concerned over the consequences to human health.
One of the apparent voices of dissent working behind the scenes in Albany is Culinary Workers Local 226, a 60,000-member union based in Las Vegas.
"The sport is ubiquitous now," said Morelle, who once was a student of karate himself. "The days of cordoning off the state of New York and not exposing the people of the state to it – that question has come and gone. ... It's here to stay."
We agree. Like it or not, New York, this form of entertainment is indeed here to stay. Let's make it legal, and regulated.
April 25, 2013
Millions of Americans know UFC's mixed-martial arts from television and matches in arenas across the 48 states where its fights are legal*. The sport has grown in popularity, especially among young men, and its events bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue and other economic activity. But the sport—which is heavily regulated by state athletic commissions—remains illegal in Connecticut and New York. The reason? Union politics in Nevada, of all places.
The bill has passed the state Senate four years in a row only to be bottled up each time by Mr. Silver. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle is the bill's lead supporter and he has 63 co-sponsors out of 150 members. But even he can't get a vote past Mr. Silver, who won't explain his opposition.
Meanwhile, Mr. Silver's obstinance is costing the New York economy, which could benefit from as many as 50 bouts a year. UFC estimates that only two fights, in Manhattan's Madison Square Garden and Buffalo's HSBC Arena, could generate as much as $16 million in business for the Empire State. The economically bereft upstate could use the jobs in particular.
April 24, 2012
Every year for the last three, the state Senate has passed a bill that would end the ban on mixed martial arts in New York. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has opposed the measure on the grounds that MMA is too violent, and has kept it from coming to a vote in his chamber. It’s time he gave up the fight.
MMA, also known as “ultimate fighting,” is no more violent or dangerous than a handful of other sports that are legal in New York. These include football, hockey and boxing. Yes, there’s a health risk to participants, but no more so than in boxing, where the blows tend to be concentrated on the head. In MMA, they tend to be distributed all about the body. And fighters quickly end up on the ground, grappling like wrestlers. So the risk of head injury from MMA appears to be even less.
MMA is shown regularly on cable TV, so it’s not like banning it from New York’s arenas will keep kids from seeing it. What it will do is deprive businesses and the state of money and workers of jobs.
*Please note that since the writing of this editorial, Connecticut has legalized MMA. NY is now the only state with an athletic commission that bans professional Mixed Martial Arts
Be sure to follow MMA4NY on Twitter @MMA4NY, The Coalition to Legalize MMA in NY @sambosteve, and New York Mixed Martial Arts @NYMMAFilm