Glazer Weighs In
I am sick and tired of defending our sport and explaining it to every person over forty years old. Truly, I’ve had it. I had previously not minded, and actually often enjoyed and relished, educating the uneducated. But that was before the EliteXC CBS event garnered so much attention in my other world, television broadcasting. I have gone to bat for MMA with my bosses at FOX, the bigwigs who make the decision whether to put MMA on what we like to call “Big” Fox – the network rather than the cable channel. I recently saw one of my bosses and exclaimed, “We can put on wife swapping and consider putting on a show about freakin’ OJ and annoying nannies corralling out-of-control kids who really need to get put in a cage, but we can’t put this on?”
The executive admitted that, “Boxing is my father’s sport and this is my kid’s sport.” He also admitted that the upper, upper, upper level of management of our parent company is opposed to it. Do we have to wait another thirty years for when today’s thirty-year-olds take control? I hope not, and I don’t believe so, but how many times do we need to remind everyone of the coveted 18-34 demographic MMA garners to prove we’ve built a better mousetrap?
I have also been told repetitively by other television executives that the advertisers won’t touch the sport. If they can’t sell it, they won’t show it. Yet, those same executives are the biggest closet fans of the sport. They are simply not brave enough to get up on the table in front of their peers and scream that they are all missing the boat.
Why is it still this hard? Unfortunately, I fear it may have gotten a bit harder after the sport’s fi rst ever network television showcase. There I sat, unable to resist the subtle yet constant urge to shake my head back and forth. What I was watching wasn’t good for the sport.
Like so many others in the world of MMA, I tuned in to the EliteXC broadcast on CBS hoping that the outside world would see what has long been invisible to them but glaring to us: MMA is the most exciting thing on television, a sport revered by even the biggest stars in other sports.
Did we really need strippers or dancing girls or whatever the hell they were to be one of the fi rst things we saw? And it’s not that the card was bad, but I wish it had been a UFC event that acted as ambassador for the outside world. How long have we tried to convince people that this sport is all about fi nely-tuned professional athletes and not backyard brawlers? I do not fault Kimbo Slice, as he’s never professed that he’s a great fi ghter. He’s a guy who is learning how to fi ght and for that I applaud him. But what was the inaugural event for many homes centered on a guy who was trying to prove you can just get up off a bar stool and be the man.
And who the hell’s bright idea was it to not stick a harmless little diabetic needle in James Thompson’s ear before a fi ght? Heck, who wouldn’t have drained it before practice?
There were kinks that needed to be worked out, which is the case for every new broadcast team. EliteXC, whom I worked for as their fi rst analyst, puts on terrifi c shows and solid cards. However, when the rest of us spend so much breath and emotion trying to convince others it’s time to buy into this sport, we needed a polished, star-studded cast to headline the event. As much as the underground loves to rip Dana White, we needed that fi rst card to be White’s event, not Gary Shaw’s. Thank goodness for the totally under-marketed Gina Carano! Could you imagine the damage done had Carano’s fi ght not been on the card?
So where are we now? Probably a step back from where we started. The numbers were good but not staggering. We needed staggering. Rather than giving the outside world top-level athletes they can get excited about, too many people now equate our world with a former streetfi ghter with three fi ghts under his belt who still clearly has an awful lot to learn.
I guess we’ll just have to keep on defending.