Putting the PC in UFC
The trials and tribulations of holding combat sports athletes up as role models.
The journey towards greater political correctness is one I generally support. You don’t get to be racist or sexist anymore? How sad for you.
But we must manage our expectations. Our society places athletes as role models. But not all are fit for the task. Combat sports athletes are not cut from the same cloth as most people. People like Mike Tyson and Conor McGregor are people who have had to engage in combat as a way of pulling themselves out of squalor. Think about every time you’ve ever been in a physical altercation in your life. Imagine doing that for a living? That combat didn’t come with an education and a sensitivity training course. They may earn more money than us, but they’re still not any more qualified to be role models.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think you owe those people, and the human race, to stop them and hold them accountable when they say something off colour, but don’t be flabbergasted when Tom Daley just called somebody a “bitch.”
Our society is full of people daring you to break their face so they can take your money even though the beating is the only thing they had coming. Combat sports are honest; whatever you say leading up to it, you will have to answer for.
It’s easy for me; I live a safe, left-wing life surrounded by pacifist left-wing opinions. I have to make a conscious effort not to align. But there’s nothing politically correct about earning your living by engaging in combat.
The part we must own up to, and I doubt we will, is our fault in getting them there. How we view them, how we treat them, how we react to them, and how we provoke them.
A Captain of a rugby team has been prepped from an early age for role modelhood. He takes responsibility to his team, to his school, then, if he’s truly honoured, to his country. The same can’t be said for most fighters, even ones granted Olympic honours. Be inspired by their grit, their determination to succeed, and what they will endure for to provide for their families, but don’t assume these attributes have come alongside a matured awareness for appropriate language. I was there when Michael Bisping fought Anderson Silva. He wouldn’t win that fight with skill. At the end of a round, he essentially got knocked out. He came back to win the next round and the fight through sheer will and determination. His choice of words, at times, may not be all that inspiring, but that is.
Conor McGregor’s unshakeable self-belief started a cultural Phenomenon among Irish people. When he was a name whispered among the Irish MMA scene and still lived in his parents’ house, he believed he would one day beat Jose Aldo. That’s inspiring. “We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over,” inspired people all over the world.
I don't think any detail is required about the smashed-in bus window, I think we can all agree that was a step too far?
I’m not here to suggest that I don’t enjoy some of it either way, but if we adjust the lines a little bit, perhaps we’d be better off? If we glorify the controversial a bit less, then we won’t have to recoil in fake horror quite so much when they step even further over the line. And nobody would get hurt. Let’s scale it back a bit? Let’s go back to “Who the F**k is that guy?” right? That didn’t hurt anybody.