City Of NORTH Vancouver Reverses Course, Once Again Bans MMA

Elton HobsonCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2010

By Elton Hobson

This week, the cause of martial arts, prizefighting, and the sport of MMA in Canada took a giant step backwards.

Thanks to a failure of city bureaucracy, political will, and old fashioned common sense, MMA, Boxing, and all other combat sports fans in Vancouver are about to be put out in the rain. If you haven’t yet heard the news, I’ll give it to you straight and simple: as of today, sanctioned prizefighting is no longer a legal activity in the city of Vancouver.

As first reported in the North Shore Outlook, the city council of North Vancouver voted to disband the North Vancouver Athletic Commission this past Monday, effectively closing the door on further sanctioned MMA events in “Hollywood North” anytime soon.

This despite the successful experiment of UFC 115, which drew a sell-out crowd, 550,000 PPV buys, and millions of dollars to the local economy. It’s strange how even in the midst of a recession, bald facts are no match for prejudiced politicians and ignorance.

So, only a few months after it began, the Mixed Martial Arts experiment in Vancouver is over. Even worse, it’s not like the writing wasn’t already on the wall. The “commission” spent all it’s time trying to update twenty year old bylaws, and quickly became hopelessly backlogged. Regulators were jittery and nervous from the get go. Insurance costs of hosting an MMA event in the city were prohibitive to many smaller promotions; even the UFC raised it’s eyebrows at the price tag.

Then UFC 115 goes down in Vancouver, after the UFC had to twist an arm and a leg to even get their foot in the door to host an event in the city. The event sells out General Motors Place, goes down without a hitch, and provides an entertaining night of fights. MMA is great, cased is closed, right?

Then some drunken, bigoted fans on their way home from the event stop to harass a gay couple for no reason at all. And just like that, the entire sport of MMA is now guilty of a hate crime in the Vancouver press.

Albert Einstein once said that only two things were truly infinite - The Universe, and human stupidity - and he wasn’t sure about the first one.

Despite the sheer ridiculousness of blaming the whole sport of MMA, it’s fighters, and it’s fan base for the actions of a couple homophobic jerks, it was enough to get the ball rolling. Truly, this kind of reasoning is pure stupidity of the first order. Imagine the would-be gay bashers had been coming from a Starbucks, or a Saturn dealership, or a Chapters rather then a UFC event. Would we blame those companies for their hateful actions?

Of course not. The truth is, some people are just jerks, and at the end of the day are solely responsible for their actions. Unless they happen to be MMA fans in Vancouver.

The city council even acknowledged that the cost of getting the bureaucracy moving again could be covered by fees and taxes the city could put on the events themselves, something that would actually benefit the city and help offset it’s crippling debt problem. Again, this seems like a no brainier to me.

But hold on, a couple of guys got in a shouting match at an amateur MMA event last month after a fight. No blows were exchanged nor penalties levied, mind you, but there was shouting and that was all it took apparently to give the city of Vancouver cold feet.

I mean, my God , those men may have gone out and shouted at gay people after the event! Oh the humanity! Won’t somebody please think of the children.

Give me a break.

This legislation will prevent local Vancouver based fighters and up and coming fighters from playing their trade close to home, forcing them to travel far away just to find work. This legislation will prevent guys like Rory MacDonald and Matt Dwyer, established big name stars and prospects from the West Coast from ever again fighting in their hometown. It will deny the local economy millions in lost potential revenue. It will make no one safer, nor happier, nor richer, nor in any way better off.

An event like this reminds one of how far we still have to go in opening minds, changing opinions, and winning the argument when it comes to MMA in this country. Vancouver has fallen off the wagon, Toronto is still a distant possibility and Montreal is constantly weighed down by it’s inefficient, possibly corrupt athletic commission. Canada may be the “Mecca of MMA” in the world per capita, but we still have a long way to go before we get the kind of sanctioning, regulation, and general cultural acceptance that the sport of MMA wants and deserves in this country.

Roll up your sleeves, people. We still have a lot of work to do.



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