MMA KOs Boxing, NPR and Old People


Doing my best to keep my mind fresh on the way into work I caught some of NPR’s Morning Edition. When I heard the voice of Frank Deford I expected to hear his usual ramblings on the basketball brackets or the start of the baseball season. To my delight he began talking about MMA. My delight immediately turned to bitter cynicism as his piece quickly became more about boxing than MMA and all of his conclusions and talking points were outdated, stereotypical, ill-researched and just plain wrong. They were exactly the type of this I would expect to hear from a dried up old commentator/author who uses a verb like “to cotton” in 2008.

“Boxing is being superseded by what is called the mixed martial arts — emphasis on martial — which apparently is especially attractive because it’s like a video game, only featuring flesh-and-blood human beings. Emphasis on blood.” Believe me Frank, I wish there was a video game as dynamic and exciting as MMA; if it existed I would play it everyday. Frank pulls the typical violent-human-cockfighting-bloodsport arguments, mentions the fact that it is in a cage, and manages to upset 99% of the population of the earth by trashing the arts wrestling, boxing, jujitsu and kickboxing.


He babels on trying to explain that because our wacky X-Game loving generation likes video games and since MMA is “a live video game” it appeals to not only video-gaming adolescence but also to people with short attention spans. I would usually agree with the part about short attention spans since I often make that comment hearing boo’s during some of the most technically exciting matches in the UFC. Except I realized he is talking about me. I am 27 (not exactly an adolescent) and I do take part in activities most old bats think of as “for the kiddies” such as my Xbox live account or my precious Patapon. But I am also a working professional for a fortune 6 company responsible for millions of dollars in data. Needless to say, I have an attention span.

He continues to describe one of the current boxing champions Wladimir Klitschko as the “pugilistic equivalent of going green” and the difficulty for boxing to compete with stars that are simply not exciting. Which I did kind of appreciate because its both true and funny. I am still not sure where the evidence in the piece is for “digital technology” spawning MMA. He never mentions Youtube, popularity of combat blogs or MMA being one of first sources of original HD content when the format took off. Sadly Frank’s piece only managed only to further my depression, realizing that its going to be a long time before people realize how obsolete their views on MMA are and how badly we need someone to change them.

The older generation needs to understand that sport is sport, and traditional sport vs extreme sport is a battle raging only in their minds. There is fight for viewership for sure, but when you have a quality product the results speak for themselves or don’t speak at all. (Looking at you Slamball!) I love my options in this age of technology; I guess if it were up to Frank there would still only be one combat sport – hunting woolly mammoth.

Woolly Frank Deford


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