At some point next week, the New York State Legislature will consider a bill to legalize mixed martial arts across the state. New York has held off on legalizing the popular sport because of the misguided belief that it is "human cockfighting" rather than a sport that's had fewer devastating injuries than boxing since it's inception.
Now's the perfect time for the state to see the light. Governor Paterson is talking up tax increases on everything from soda to iTunes and back again, so clearly the state needs some revenue. What better way to get it than selling out Madison Square Garden, with a nice chunk of taxes going to the coffers, a couple of times a year with big events? Or smaller events filling arenas in Albany and Buffalo while they create work in arenas that would otherwise be sitting dormant.
At a time when companies are languishing in every industry, MMA's standard bearer, the UFC, is flourishing. Advertisers desperate to reach the young male demographic are flocking to do business with the UFC and its fighters. Microsoft recently featured Rashad Evans, the UFC light heavyweight champion, in a commercial and there's only more deals like that coming down the pike. Voting down MMA's legalization right now would be voting down much needed money for the state, something far more reprehensible than anything that's gone on in a MMA ring.
The best part of the bill for those who still aren't sure of MMA's bona fides is that it is written with a "Sunset Clause." The law would expire in three years without further action from legislators. That gives plenty of time to figure out exactly what MMA is, rather than just listening to those who deride it without actually seeing the events. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but the reality of the times mean that you have to try.