Being a die-hard sports fan I have been to my share of live sporting events and there is always a case of one fan completely going overboard when criticizing an athlete. Being in New York, where the fans are as passionate as anywhere else, I have heard some of the most vulgar and disgusting things said to an athlete.
As a fan and as a paying customer just how far is too far? Is it too far when we scream obscenities at an athlete for making an error or missing an open jump shot? Is it going too far when we continuously criticize a star player from the stands for a mistake he has made off the field?
Ever since I became a fan of mixed martial arts I have come to appreciate some very important attributes that these great athletes possess within themselves. First and foremost they work and train as hard if not harder than any other athlete today. There is no off-season for a mixed martial artist. Yes they get some down time in between fights but in this day and age they are constantly working to try and improve as well as keep up with the competition.
Secondly, the respect they show not only themselves but their opponents is unmatched by any other sport. Sportsmanship in MMA is one of the main reasons I have put my heart and soul into not only being a fan but being a journalist covering this great sport as well.
With that being said, it really pains me when two fighters step into the cage and lay it all on the line only to have the fans boo because the fight wasn’t exciting enough or there wasn’t a finish. If you ask me the majority of the fans doing the booing wouldn’t have the guts to step into that cage and fight another human being.
As I said earlier I realize that there is a certain amount of rights afforded to a paying customer; they work hard and they want to be entertained. They are looking for a release and a way to forget about their everyday lives and what goes on at the office. What bothers me though is when someone boos or shouts an obscenity to a fighter while they are doing their post-fight interview. I say give the guy a break, he trained for months to get ready for this fight, probably forsaking his family and friends and becoming a recluse in order to prepare for this fight.
With other sports I can almost understand when a fan gets upset when a player makes an error especially one that should have and could have been avoided, maybe they were daydreaming in the field. In mixed martial arts these athletes are risking life and limb each and every time they fight. They do it because they love the sport and they love to entertain the fans. This isn’t like other sports, these fighters know that one mistake and their careers could be over at the drop of a hat. They go into each and every fight with the intention of putting on their best possible performance, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way they had hoped.
So the next time you are watching an MMA fight please try and remember all that goes into preparing for the fight and the consequences each fight has. A loss or an injury could spell the end of a fighter’s career. One thing I implore you to remember before you start booing, criticizing and screaming obscenities at a fighter is that they have shown you and their opponent an unbelievable amount of respect by just stepping into that cage, the least you could do is return the favor.