Recently it’s been reported that the UFC is in the midst of organizing a fighter summit that will address the recent problems revolving around the behaviors of several prominent fighters.
While I think that the raw honesty of its athletes is one of the main reasons that MMA is such an interesting sport to follow, sometimes if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.
Aside from “behavior” being a blanket topic, it’s not known what will be particularly addressed at this summit. So here’s what I think the UFC should cover for this summit on fighter behavior.
You are what you tweet.
Whoever knew that so much damage could be done in so few characters? Dana White himself raised a very valid point when it comes to Twitter: you don’t have enough characters to get your intentions across
Subtlety and sarcasm are already hard to translate across the Internet, but when you have to whittle down your words to 140 characters, it becomes near-impossible.
But not only does this apply to Twitter, this applies to most forms of social media in general.
So, what to do? First, you need to realize that as a professional athlete, people will view your social media accounts as their all-access pass into your life. The more raw and honest you get, the more people will come to associate your online accounts with “the real you.”
So when you do something that offends your followers, the reaction will be much more negative than normal since they feel like they’ve been betrayed.
Is it weird? Yes. But we live in a weird age. We live in an age where what we do in the digital world has become almost as important as what we do in the real world. Some would say it’s already as important, and a few would even say that it’s more important.
You’ve heard of “do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you.”
Perhaps a more fitting term in this digital age is “don’t post it online if you wouldn’t shout it in public.”
Dark humor needs to stay in the dark.
I could sum this up relatively easy with one sentence.
No rape jokes.
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that that’s just an example of the problem, and not the problem itself. These types of “dark humor” jokes have a time and place, and that place isn’t in public.
Another way to think about it: leave the controversial jokes to the comedians.
It doesn’t matter if you’re simply quoting a dark humor joke, or a line from a show that has dark humor in it, or even just a dark humor joke you heard or read.
Don’t do it.
Most of the time, dark humor jokes are so funny because they’re so offensive and controversial. But “so offensive it’s funny” to you just could be plain old “very offensive” to somebody else. And when you’re a professional athlete that’s supposed to be representing a sport, you can’t take that kind of risk.
If anything, feel proud that so many people are paying attention to you that you can literally not say anything without at least one person getting offended. But the more blatantly offensive you get, the more people will get offended.
As your popularity snowballs, so does the amount of people that could get offended if you say something generally perceived as offensive or controversial.
And when that snowballs, the end result comes in the form of what we’ve recently seen: major sponsors issuing public demands to get fighters in line.
Understand that this is a “do as I say, not as I do” situation.
What I mean by this is simple: it’s awfully hypocritical of the UFC to organize a fighter summit on behavior when the public face of your promotion spends more time talking with four-letter words than without them.
But the reality of the situation is this: Dana White can get away with it and you can’t. This isn’t something the UFC can just come out and say, but it’s the truth. If you’re looking to leadership for a positive example of who to emulate, Lorenzo Fertitta is far better of a role model than Dana White.
I’m not saying that UFC fighters should start censoring themselves. I’m just saying that maybe something you think is awesome doesn’t have to be described as “****ing awesome," or if you had a bad day you don’t have to describe your day as “****ty."
If you try hard enough, you can get your point across without curse words. Just don’t think that Dana White is going to be held to the same standard. Again: it’s not fair, but it’s the truth.