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Poll indicating New York anti-MMA stance may be misleading

Peter Lampasona
30 January 2010
Poll indicating New York anti-MMA stance may be misleading
A Marist poll reported today that nearly 70% of all New Yorkers are still opposed to the sanctioning of MMA in the Empire State. The poll, which surveyed random samplings from every geographic location within the state, would seemingly indicate that New York still is not generally friendly to the idea of the somehow still controversial sport. However, even the language by which the findings are reported is very suspicious of signifying a predetermined outcome. Since the Ultimate Fight Championship, far more often referred to as the UFC, established itself as the premiere promotion for MMA in North America, many in the US consider the UFC and MMA to be interchangeable terms. From that interchangeability, the term “ultimate fighting” arose to describe the sport.

However, describing MMA as “ultimate fighting” is something that no fan or student of the sport would do. For one, the term ignores the history of mixed rules bouts prior to the UFC or the existance any MMA promotion other than the UFC. More importantly, “ultimate fighting” is a term that has been adopted by those who don’t approve of MMA. Ultimate fighting is a name more in keeping with an negative image of violence without art or skill than mixed martial arts, and has evolved into a derogatory term, used to belittle those involved in the MMA industry.

When the Marist poll reported that nearly seven out of ten New Yorkers were against “ultimate fighting,” it indicated that the poll itself was crafted in the language of the opposition. When someone hears the term “ultimate fighting,” he can only remember arguments made against the validity of the sport, as no proponent of MMA would use those words to describe it. Be it by design or ignorance, the terminology used in the poll would, in context, drive those who did not already hold an opinion one way or the other to vote in the negative.

Even with the flat results of the poll being suspect as to directly reflecting reality, there are a few important facts that can be safely gleaned from the Marist survey. The proportionate results from different demographics are likely accurate.

More women oppose the sport than men. More people over 30 oppose the sport than under. The sport is looked on less favorably in downtown Manhattan than it is in Suffolk County.

Perhaps the most notable fact that the poll brings to light is that, whether their numbers are artificially inflated or not, there are still many in New York that aren’t happy about MMA events being held in its borders.

The Empire State hosts some of the most successful MMA gyms in the country, not counting the various other popular combat sports, such as Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, that tend to cross-pollinate with the MMA crowd. Being involved in the MMA scene in New York as either an athlete or an analyst, it’s easy to go long stretches of time without mentioning MMA to someone who isn’t a fan. On Long Island it’s hard to walk into a crowded room and not find at least one ranked Jiu Jitsu practitioner.

With the State Assembly's vote to sanction the sport imminent, it's important to remember that for every zealous member of the MMA community who will speak out in favor of the sport, there’s another fierce opponent who won’t say anything until the pollsters come calling, even accounting for skewed results.
Last Modified:
12 November 2010

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