Monday, May 5, 2008

A Work of Art: The NYS Bill to Allow Pro MMA

A well-crafted piece of legislation can be a work of art, akin to a Van Gogh oil painting in its legal nuances or a Renoir portrait in its details. If that's the case, then the proposed bill that would amend the law that bans pro MMA in New York is a fingerpainting done by a circus clown on the tail end of a five-day crystal meth binge. As the current law reads, professional "combative sports and exhibitions" are prohibited, with an exception made for martial arts sanctioned by an outdated list of organizations (the US Tae Kwon Do Union, the USA Karate Foundation, the North American Slapfighting Association, etc.). This is followed by the magic words "the [athletic] commission is authorized to promulgate regulations which would establish a process to allow for the inclusion or removal of martial arts organizations from the above list." There are two issues here: the giant loophole in the law that allows for unregulated amateur MMA and the phrase "authorized to promulgate regulations" (which, when translated into English, means the athletic commission has no obligation to do anything but sit around and drink coffee from styrofoam cups). The proposed bill makes MMA an exception to the definition of combative sport, but it does nothing to address these issues. It even throws in a "the commission is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations" for good measure. Very scary. There will always be an Underground Combat League regardless of whether the amateur MMA loophole is sewn up or not, but New York is a big state with plenty of room for what the USKBA has going in New Jersey. Will the new law allow for a Proving Grounds or New Breed Fighters or Asylum Fight League here? And will the proposed bill permit the NYSAC to tackle MMA regulating with the same fervor as when it took on the "approved martial arts organizations" list? (Note: in eleven years, nothing was ever done in regards to changing that list.) New York State deserves a big UFC at Madison Square Garden, more Vengeance at the Vanderbilts and a half dozen amateur events holding shows from Buffalo to Albany to Long Island. Hopefully a half-assed piece of legislation doesn't screw all that up.