Sunday, April 06, 2008

"With the television coverage has come more interest." by Anthony McCarthy

or This is X-actly What I Mean

Those X-treme fighting spectacles that are so popular on TV have caught on and are being promoted for children who still have their baby teeth. And those parents, the ones who are supposed to be looking out for their health and safety, they’re a big part of the problem.

FALL RIVER - One fighter kicked and threw a punch. The other grabbed his opponent behind the neck. Tyler Benoit and Justin Pereira were locked up now, a tangle of arms and legs, spinning around and finally falling to the mat with a thud, as the crowd watched, rapt.

"Push away, Tyler!" Derek Benoit shouted at his son. "Push away!"

Tyler is 7 years old, his opponent was 8. And their showdown one night last week at Gillett's Mixed Martial Arts gym in Fall River was just practice, just two children sparring, in padded headgear, in front of their instructors - no strikes to the head allowed.

But plenty of Massachusetts youths are dreaming of becoming real mixed martial arts fighters, where the punches are harder and the fights very real. And in Massachusetts, unlike most other states, including Louisiana and Mississippi, there are no laws or regulations prohibiting minors from entering the fray.

Those of us who aren’t fans of commercial maiming as entertainment have a lot to learn about this cultural phenomenon.

"I have parents who kind of scare me sometimes," said Gillett last week at his Fall River gym.

"They're in there, wrestling on the mats, helping kids out. Moms and dads getting on the mats working on things: triangle chokes, arm bars, knee bars, guillotine chokes. Moms and dads letting their kids choke them just for practice reasons. The days of Dad throwing a ball with little Billy are over. Now, Dad's on the mat letting Billy put him in an arm bar or a choke hold until he taps."

Apparently “taps” are what are known in the S&M world as “safety words”. You wonder what this means in the ever more violent, ultra-macho, ultra-conformist, shame enforced, tough guy culture. Not much, apparently.

"The culture is to accept pain, rather than report it," he said. "The culture is not to quit, not to tap out."

As always, those who point out that children’s lives, bodies and brains are at risk in this nascent profit making pathological-parent fulfilling industry are accused of “not understanding the sport”. In this world, a medical doctor understanding brain injury and other serious health consequences count for less than the wisdom of gym owners and other commercial promoters. Notice that boxing for 8-year olds and football for 5-year-olds are the excuses given for allowing these newer venues for brain damage in children. Two wrongs apparently do make it all right, when there's a profit to be made.

Read the article and consider the consequences of this being promoted on TV. Doesn’t the left have a moral responsibility to the children whose parents willingly hand them to the commercial cult of The American Moloch whose altars sit in just about every living room?