For those of you who believe that my working for ProElite.com could compromise how I write about the sport, well, there’s something I wanted to talk about.
Take a look at the below image that appears on ProElite.com in order to promote a online chat with Nick Diaz this Thursday at 4 p.m. ET:
Is it just me, or do I see the word “marijuana?”
That’s a very questionable way for an organization to promote one of its top athletes.
Would a major sports league like the NFL, NBA, or MLB promote one of its athletes in the manner in which EliteXC is doing in this instance with Diaz? Absolutely not. Would the UFC ever adopt a similar approach if Diaz was still fighting under its banner? There’s no way to know for sure but I’m almost positive they wouldn’t.
So the question is this: is the way ProElite and EliteXC is choosing to promote Diaz’s chat good for MMA’s image?
Some of you will insist that I rip ProElite for the manner in which they’ve chosen to promote Diaz. But if I did that, I’d be a hypocrite because I’m the one who wrote that EliteXC should embrace Diaz’s rebel with a cause image and promote him as a counter-culture anti-hero. Yes, I’m the guy who said they shouldn’t run from Nick’s past and should highlight his outspoken nature. I said all of those things before I ever was contacted by ProElite about a job and for all I know, maybe they are following the unsolicited public advice that I gave the company?
ProElite is walking a fine line here. If it was a hard drug or a performance enhancer, then the response would be obvious. But we’re talking about marijuana here. First off, I do not smoke marijuana. I’m married 30-year old guy with a wife and an eight-year old son. I also happen to live in a drug free school zone. I live in suburbia and am about as far away from the drug culture as you can get. That’s not to say I haven’t partaken in it in the past. I’m sure talking about my past drug history will be a turnoff to some and it’s not an area the average sports writer would touch but the last thing I want to be is the average sports writer. I tried it a few times and didn’t like it much (it made me more paranoid than I already am). Frankly, I never could understand what the big deal was.
While I never understood the allure to marijuana, I also still don’t understand the outrage over it. I just think it’s a shame that we’re prosecuting a lot of non-violent offenders in this country and sentencing them to jail in overcrowded areas of the country and in turn is allowing violent offenders to serve lighter sentences in some cases.
Marijuana definitely can be a harmful drug. I’ve seen friends get caught up in it and lose all motivation. However, I’ve also had some friends who were completely functional while on it and didn’t appear to be anywhere near as functional when they weren’t on it. But I think marijuana can be harmful if used frequently in the same way that someone who eats fast food on a regular basis starts suffering from obesity-related health issues. We’ve got 11-year old kids in this country suffering from Type 2 diabetes and while a lot of cities have begun to ban trans fat, we’re still allowing fast food companies to peddle their unhealthy products and causing healthcare costs to skyrocket (hey, can I get a discount on health insurance because I don’t eat fast food unless I’m an at airport?).
Needless to say, in my view, marijuana should be legal and fighters certainly shouldn’t be suspended for it or have the outcomes of fights changed because of it.
By now, you can pretty much guess that I don’t have a problem with Diaz’s public support of marijuana. I interviewed him a few weeks back for CBSSports.com and it was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve ever conducted. I was already a fan of Nick Diaz the fighter but it changed my opinion of Nick Diaz the person. I’d have a problem if a fighter was glamorizing the use of drugs and endorsing that anyone under the age of 18 use it. But Diaz wasn’t acting like a teenager and dropping a lot of immature marijuana references. He talked about marijuana from a lot of different adult perspectives, most notably from a political perspective. If you take the time to read the interview, Diaz raised a lot of good points. We even talked a little about it off the record and both agreed that giving people jail for non-violent drug offenses at the expense of keeping violent criminals in jail was completely backwards.
And Diaz isn’t alone in his viewpoint as the push to legalize marijuana in the U.S. is one that is shared by millions of people. I kind of get annoyed by silly stoners who talk about legalizing marijuana and when you ask them for an explanation as to why, they are completely dumbfounded. But there are also some pretty intelligent people out there making some compelling arguments about the medicinal value of marijuana.
In some ways, I like how ProElite is promoting Diaz. It’s edgey and it’s pushing the envelope and the fight game shouldn’t be an entirely politically correct word (operative word: entirely). However, at the end of the day, marijuana is illegal. Diaz should be allowed to speak his mind without fear of reprisal but promoting his past acknowledged use of of marijuana through an online image on a highly-trafficked website is not the way to go. There are some creative people at ProElite so there has to be a indirect way to push the issue without being so obvious as to put “marijuana” in bold letters.