How real should it get?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione recently appeared on Ariel Helwani’s “The MMA Hour,” and referred to transgendered WMMA fighter Fallon Fox as “a lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak,” among other virulent terms.

In response, the UFC suspended the former NFL player and current heavyweight.

“The organization finds Mr Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable,” said the UFC in an official release. “And – as a direct result of this significant breach of the UFC’s code of conduct – Mr Mitrione’s UFC contract has been suspended and the incident is being investigated.”

UFC president Dana White was asked to comment, during a UFC on Fox 7 media call.

“It’s one of those things, it’s just a pain in the ass, you know what I mean?” White said. “First of all, he didn’t even need to be doing an interview. And I’m going to talk to these guys. I’m going to talk to these guys. The only time these guys really need to be doing interviews is leading up to fights. You know? It ended up being a nightmare for him.”

“What was the point of that interview? There was no point in it. Now it’s caused him a bunch of headaches and problems. It’s caused us a bunch of headaches and problems, for no reason whatsoever.”

“He had just fought. He wouldn’t fight again for another few months and he’s still over there enjoying himself in Sweden, what was the point in doing that interview? You know? What was the upside in that interview? There was none… no upside.”

We live in the dawn of a new era in which the lines between personal and private are ever increasingly becoming blurred. Athletes are encouraged to communicate via social networks – above all Twitter – to build a personal brand and with it gain for the fighter, the promotion, and the sport. But that form of interaction makes a habit of being real, in an era that is unforgiving of reality, and quick to judge.

Human beings wear clothes for more than warmth. We wear clothes because if everyone walked around naked, it wouldn’t be pretty.

So too with media. Not everything a human being feels should be shared with the world, and thus archived for all time.

During 1968 Democratic National Convention, war protesters who understood the power of television, taunted the attacking members of the Chicago police force with the chant “the whole world is watching.”

Now the whole world is watching nearly everything, forever.

There is a real danger that MMA becomes like other mainstream sports, where the public face of the athletes is a complete contrivance, with the authenticity of Ronald McDonald. Mixed Martial Arts is as real as it gets, and not coincidentally the athletes are too.

There is a profound beauty in the honest and raw nature of mixed martial arts and the people in it, but it needs a little bit of tempering. Each prominent athlete in the sport needs the media equivalent of 4 oz. gloves and no attacks the groin, but not more than that or we lose the heart of the sport which is reality and truth.

(14:58 mark)