Before you leap to label me a mentally handicapped mixed martial arts fanatic, I ask you to hear me out, please.
First, I want to point out the inspiration for this article: my 11-year-old daughter. While watching Cartoon Network’s Hall of Game Award Show, she looked directly in my eyes and asked an interesting question, “Why wasn’t Ronda (she refers to her simply as Rowdy Ronda) Rousey nominated for the ‘She’s Got Game Award'?”
That’s a compelling question, and it got me thinking.
Cartoon Network recently aired the 2013 Hall of Game Awards, in which the network recognizes a vast selection of professional sports and their star athletes. Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, hockey, tennis and even surfing are recognized by the network.
It’s understandable that the network, aimed primarily at a 18-and-under crowd, would limit coverage to relatively tame sports.
But how tame are these sports?
Professional football players suffer concussions, bone breaks and dislocations every season. Basketball players are often lured into heated physical exchanges, a product of frustration no doubt. How many snowboarders have been carried from the snow on a stretcher? I’ve seen more than one tibia snap in half during soccer competition.
While these sports are promoted as safe, the truth is nearly any professional sport poses the potential threat of bodily damage.
Given the violence that shrouds the majority of sports today, I must ask, should sports like boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts be omitted from the Hall of Game Awards?
There are countless female boxers, many of which are quite young, competing today. The same can be said for mixed martial artists. The sport is expanding at an alarming rate, gaining mainstream notoriety among fans of all ages and both genders. Today we’re seeing 18-year-old women entering the cage in the pursuit of physical greatness.
Does the fact that women are involved diminish the potential for ultra-violence? No, admittedly, it does not.
But these women are athletes. Serious athletes who’ve chosen to dedicate their time, heart and energy into a sport branch they deeply love. Should they be overlooked with such ease? After endless hours of strenuous training and tense competition, do they not deserve recognition from all (and I mean all) outlets honoring a wide array of professional athletes?
Mixed martial arts isn’t a tame sport in the slightest. It’s violent, and I understand that. However, over the last half decade or so, MMA has come to be acknowledged as a legitimate sport. To omit mixed martial arts from diverse award ceremonies seems... wrong, disrespectful.
I understand that if a network such as the Cartoon Network is to showcase professional fighters, some heavy editing will be a mandatory. The majority in attendance and watching at home probably aren’t keen on seeing limbs snap in two. I get that.
So put the editors to work!
Ronda Rousey deserved to be recognized at the 2013 Cartoon Network’s Hall of Game Award Show.
Serena Williams was recognized for her amazing 2012 performances in which she won at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Women’s Doubles at Wimbledon. Gabby Douglas played her part in winning the team all-around gold medal; she also won the gold medal in the individual all-around. That’s an incredible accomplishment that makes her the first American gymnast ever to win both the team and individual all-around gold at the same Olympic Games.
Alex Morgan exploded on the soccer field, racking up 14 goals in a 12-game stretch and went on to become a pivotal player in the 2012 Olympic Games, securing a game-winning goal in the opening game. Tamika Catchings left the basketball court on fire in 2012, averaging over 17 points per game in the regular season, while upping the ante and locking in 19 points per game in the postseason. She also a 2012 Olympic select.
These are outstanding athletes. But so is Rousey.
In 2012 Rousey captured a Strikeforce title and completely annihilated two quality opponents in Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman. In regards to Women’s MMA, it doesn’t get much more impressive than that.
Did I mention she’s also a former Olympic medalist?
I understand a brand like Cartoon Network hesitating in nominating mixed martial artists. I really do. But I’d be willing to bet that there were plenty of athletes, celebrities and fans in attendance that carry a serious love for the sport. Chances are, there was more than one young lady in that crowd with aspirations of succeeding inside the cage.
I’m not wholly convinced the Cartoon Network will introduce mixed martial artists into future award show lineups, but my daughter’s question certainly got me thinking.
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