Michael Phelps, Jennie Finch…Forrest Griffi n. The Olympics are sorely missing the boat without the Forrest Griffi ns of the world. I know, I know, you’re all thinking, “Here goes that blowhard Glazer with another ‘MMA is the greatest, blah, blah, blah…’ column again.”
Ummm… yup! Damn right it’s time for one of those. Why? The time is ripe for the MMA nation to push mixed martial arts into the stratosphere. I’m feeling quite Olympic. Just picture it – MMA as a three-medal sport. Let our voice be heard. Let’s make the move. Let’s push and push hard, until we get to where our sport belongs. After all, MMA was a staple in the beginning of the Olympic games, albeit under the name Pankration. Legend has it that Hercules was a pankration competitor. (He probably fought Bas).
The US Olympic Committee, as well as NBC, did a great job using the Michael Phelps sensation to hook us for hours of additional non-Phelps viewing. But four years from now, they’re going to need another hook. It’s a perfect match. In four years the Olympics could strongly use us.
Just look at what has happened to so many staples of past Olympics. I failed to watch a single boxing match. I don’t enjoy point boxing. What a far cry from the days of Clay, Foreman, Breland, Taylor, Whitaker, De La Hoya, Jones, Jr. and other Olympic heroes from the squared circle. And the only thing anyone noticed about Tae Kwon Do was the moron who kicked the ref in the face. I actually forgot Tae Kwon Do was still an Olympic competition. Isn’t it time point karate was replaced by something that people will watch? I’m telling ya folks, now is the time. The world is just about ready for it.
Basketball? Does anyone really give a rat’s behind to see a bunch of spoiled millionaires whip a team of amateurs as expected? The only thing the Dream Team does is set up another nation to have a “Miracle On Ice” moment. If we are going to have professionals represent their countries, I’d rather they be MMAers who treat their fans like gold.
Track and fi eld still retained some luster, that one I’ll give you. I even got into the diving a bit, but only because I was waiting for Phelps to shock us once again. Women’s volleyball was fun, but only because we had hot chicks grunting in bikinis. How can I not love that?
Tennis? Seriously, tennis? What is the difference between tennis in the Olympics and tennis in the other tournaments? What separates fi verings tennis from everything else? And how do we possibly explain synchronized swimming or water polo or badminton or all the other sports we don’t watch? How do we explain that over MMA? Come on Olympic committee, open your eyes! We’ll make it easier on you the next time, instead of having to rely upon one swimmer from Baltimore.
Now I love wrestling, grew up wrestling, but the basic viewer at home simply doesn’t get it. They can’t fi gure out what scores what and why action is stopped when it is. The casual fan probably gets MMA more than wrestling, which unfortunately has been relegated to the wee hours of CNBC coverage.
Now is the time for us all to begin the push. NBC, which drives us to watch what they want us to root for, has jumped into the game with Strikeforce. They are open to it and know they can sell it. That’s a huge obstacle we don’t have to deal with. Imagine the ratings an Olympic tournament would garner. Are you kidding me? There’s nothing like tournament MMA and with the positive PR onslaught from the USOC and NBC, the untold stories behind so many of our fi ghters should captivate millions. Plus, why wouldn’t the UFC, Affl iction, Pro Elite, Strikeforce, and others get behind this fully? It would only create more sports heroes and more payper- view gold mines the way it did for boxing in decades past.
So I’m asking the faithful legions to start making some noise. Start a grass roots campaign every chance you get. Our voice is starting to sound like a quiet whisper. I’m asking the MMA nation to start making a push. Once we go Olympic, the ceiling in our sport is offi cially blown off. Because most of all, Olympic acceptance means the years of fi ghting the ignorance and false labels are offi cially over. The mountain will fi nally be climbed. But it’s up to us to run up the fi nal portion of the mountain.