It’s a new year, which means another round in the ongoing fight to get the ban on professional MMA lifted in New York State. When last we left the battlefield, the State Senate had passed their half of the bill to legalize the sport, while the Assembly’s half of the bill stalled from lack of Democratic support. But that was last year, and since time ran out in that legislative session, and a new one is about to begin, it’s back to square one for proponents of MMA in New York.
In November, Zuffa held a press conference at Madison Square Garden and outlined their new study on the economic impact sanctioning the sport would have on the state.
Meanwhile, in Albany, the state’s capitol and where the legislature does their heavy lifting, senators and assemblymen alike have been preparing to resume the fight. Unfortunately, it’s a fight that doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, especially with Assemblywoman Margaret Markey helming the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, which is a committee that has given the pro MMA effort trouble in the past.
Here’s the Legislative Gazette with some additional color:
Even with increased oversight and more regulations and an increase in demand, it seems unlikely Markey — one of the many Assembly critics — will be easily swayed to allow the sport. Markey says she cannot morally support the legalization of a violent sport with the intention of immobilizing one’s opponent.
“The question about [the] proposed legislation is a moral one for me. The activity is barbaric and brutal, the equivalent of a street corner brawl, just moved indoors to a bigger stage with TV cameras, lights and a bigger audience,” Markey said.
Markey says the sport of mixed martial arts may be similar to other violent sports such as boxing and football but “may only be comparable to those sports as the extreme extension of their most brutal aspects.”
“However the difference is that the brutality is a byproduct of play, not the primary purpose of the activity, as in MMA,” Markey said. “As we have seen in recent months alone, there are still significant health risks for participants in those sports even though they are better supervised and regulated and we learn more every day about the consequences of head injuries for players.”
Regardless of what obstacles may lie ahead, the effort continues, with legislators preparing various versions of MMA bills for consideration, and Zuffa lobbyists doing whatever it is they’ve been doing for the past few years (preparing slideshows? Going on business lunches?).
(Also worth noting is the Zuffa vs. New York lawsuit, a wildcard in this whole equation.)
Will this be the year the ban gets lifted in New York? It’s too soon to tell, but at least everyone is still trying.