I read the guest column, "MMA is too barbaric" by Bob Trumpbour (Oct. 11), and was amazed to read that the author is a communications professor at Penn State Altoona.
Hopefully, this ill-researched article, filled with hyperbole, would not receive high marks if presented in one of Prof. Trumpbour's classes.
Allow me to present the rebuttal to the misstatements and poorly developed arguments put forth in the original column. First, it took an enormous leap to compare Michael Vick's dogs with mixed martial artists. Vick's dogs were forced to participate in fights to the death without any ability to consent. If unsuccessful, these dogs were put to death by the ringleaders.
Is that truly how Trumpbour thinks MMA treats its fighters? These men and women come into the sport because of their lifelong participation in one or more traditional martial arts (jiu jitsu, karate, wrestling, boxing, etc.), and they desire to test their skillset against others.
Nobody is forcing them into matches, just as no one is forcing Trumpbour to watch MMA. Then we come to the oft-used "human cockfighting" line.
This tired chestnut gets brought out in any argument against MMA, but it is worth a critical look. It was famously uttered by Senator John McCain in 1995 as he attempted to get it banned. Of note is that McCain is a long-time boxing proponent, and at the time the comment was made, professional MMA was in its infancy.
There were very few rules, and the sport at that time was being marketed as brutal.
In recent years, many changes have been made. There is a set of unified rules outlawing many dangerous maneuvers, and MMA is regulated by the State Athletic Commissions, same as boxing.
McCain has since been quoted as saying, "The sport has grown up. The rules have been adapted to give its athletes better protections and to ensure fairer competition."
People often worry that because more strikes and grappling holds are allowed than in the sports with which they are more comfortable, such as boxing or wrestling, there must be a greater risk of serious injury or death.
Perhaps it would interest Trumpbour to know that a Johns Hopkins University study found that "the overall injury rate in MMA competitions is now similar to other combat sports, including boxing. Knockout rates are lower in MMA competitions than in boxing. This suggests a reduced risk of traumatic brain injury in MMA competitions when compared to other events involving striking."
There has been one death from injuries sustained in an MMA competition in North America since its inception. According to the Journal of Combative Sport, boxing averages roughly 10.4 deaths each year. Compare that with studies that find that college football suffers 11 deaths per year; horse racing comes in at 23 deaths each year.
Where is Trumpbour's righteous indignation at these barbaric contests? Any writer who calls for banning an activity because he himself doesn't like it loses credibility in my eyes.
In the same week that an article in the Mirror lauds Hollidaysburg's Charlie Brenneman for his tremendous accomplishments in Mixed Martial Arts, we have a poorly-informed writer basically denigrating Charlie and other talented athletes for their quest.
Laubenstein resides in Altoona. This is his first submission to Voice of the Fan.