By: Jeremiah Rivera
After a long battle, regulated amateur and professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has won the battle to become legalized in New York.
With a recent vote, millions of fans across the state of New York have sanctioned MMA events. The legalization of the sport would help generate an estimated $135 million each year, boosting economic activity for local businesses.
“This will help jump-start our state’s economy, attract tourism, create jobs and bring in additional tax revenue,” said Assemblywoman Pamela Harris.
The legalization of the sport would potentially make MMA safer for fighters and fans alike. The new bill instituted strict safety standards. This allows the New York State Athletic Commission to regulate MMA similar to other combative sports.
“I have always believed any type of sport, be it MMA or boxing, should be out in the open and regulated rather than underground,” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol. “Not only are there economic benefits for the state, but the most important benefit is safety for those competing.”
Under the bill, the Department of State would study new ways to fund healthcare for fighters who develop degenerative brain conditions. Sports promoters would be required to provide an estimate of $50,000 in accident insurance coverage for competitions.
Several York College students interviewed agreed with the Assembly members.
“I think it’s a good thing honestly because it will benefit everyone including true MMA fans,” said Regina Walker, 24, a Health Science major at York College. “Every fan of the sport will be able to see MMA fights and the state of New York will get to make some revenue off it.”
According to a study at the University of Toronto nine MMA fighters have died from injuries they suffered during professional fights between 2007-2014. Deaths caused by hemorrhages and blunt force trauma to the head were common amongst all the victims.
In a counter move, the Democratic-controlled Assembly announced plans to introduce a bill that would put a two year prohibition on professional MMA fighters with history of head injuries. This would allow the state to study the health impacts of these traumas.
York College students were excited about the legalization of MMA and thought of a few other positives besides increases in economic activity.
“MMA is an awesome sport to watch and it’s good to know that New Yorkers will finally be able to attend live matches,” said Edwin Batres,19, a Fine Arts major at York College. “I think the legalization of MMA is a positive because it would bring more attention to the sport and it would be an awesome experience to finally watch fights at Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center.”
Batres went on to say that MMA being legalized in New York would also encourage young kids and teenagers to participate in MMA classes and learn how to defend themselves in the street.
It would help the youth learn responsibility and discipline the same way Taekwondo and kickboxing does. It would even inspire the pursuit of a professional career in MMA.
“I thought it was already legalized,” said Mark Gonzalez, 20, a Music major at York College. “I’ve been to some private fights already from martial arts schools but they seemed professional. I just went to one because my friend was fighting that day. Maybe now he can go professional or at least fight in the correct way. It’s was only New York that was unable to take part in the MMA craze so it’s good to know that we are no longer excluded.”