Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sociology of MMA: MMA Compared to Pro Wrestling and Other Sports

Shane Logan has an interesting 15-minute presentation through TED on masculinity and MMA. There's some good sociology in the talk (good conceptually, I would have liked to have seen more empirical evidence from his 2 years in the field, but he only had 15 minutes), specifically pinpointing how meso and macro forces influence men's decisions to engage in the sport. See the video, below:

Personally, I believe the meso reasons to be more valid. A desire towards some form of hegemonic masculine status in my experience appears to drive more men into practicing MMA, as hobbyists, semi-pro's, and full on professionals. I wonder if Logan's interviews actually revealed that a large number of MMA practitioners followed WWF back in the 1980s. I am sure some did, perhaps even a substantial proportion (I know I did). But my guess is a large number didn't as well, and even despise the comparison.

Also, there's quite a few mentions of MMA being compared to a "fight to the death" kind of thing, or at least using that kind of sensationalized language. That's just not necessary. The sport's been around long enough that any critique can and should be more objective. It's not 2 guys trying to kill each other in practice/competition, though the mainstream MMA media may present it that way to sell tickets.

And finally, the close noting that MMA is an escalation of violence from WWF/WWE is a bit premature. Are there really more injuries or deaths from sanctioned MMA than pro wrestling? More steroid use? Are the social messages expressed in MMA (harmful as they often are) more harmful than those expressed in professional wrestling? I'd like to see some empirical evidence to prove MMA is more dangerous than pro wrestling and the most dangerous sport out there before such things are stated.

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