Flash back to April 9, 2005:
Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar engage in a spirited, 15-minute slug-fest that would change the landscape of mainstream sports in America and bring the UFC out of near-extinction.
As a result, mixed martial arts was suddenly the “fastest growing sport in the country” and the “new” UFC was an instant hit with the teen demographic.
The integration of a mixed martial arts reality show and several ultra-violent UFC Undisputed video game titles were just some of the clever marketing techniques aimed at reeling in youthful consumers.
With the sport skyrocketing in popularity among students, many high school athletic programs nationwide have pondered the possibility of adding organized MMA clubs to their extra curricular activities.
Is it a good idea for the youth of America to be given the tools to become warrior-like combatants ?
Let’s face it. Fights happen all the time amongst high school kids. An MMA club would give students a safer alternative to take out their aggression rather than entering an unsupervised brawl.
The thrill of one-on-one combat already draws many students to organized high school wrestling, but how many of them would prefer to participate in an MMA club instead ?
The numbers could be staggering, as wrestling is one of the many foundations in MMA.
Some of the top fighters in the UFC were former high school wrestling champions. Cain Velasquez was a two-time state wrestling champion at Kofa High School, where he compiled a 110-10 record over his four-year career. Brock Lesnar was 33-0 in his senior year at Webster High School in South Dakota.
Mixed martial arts clubs would be met with concerns from parents and teachers over student safety. However, the most common sport offered by American public schools is football, which generates over 500,000 injuries yearly.
Football injuries include brain trauma, concussions and spinal shock, yet is offered by most high schools athletic programs.
Perhaps the best approach to integrate mixed martial arts programs into high schools would be to teach the fundamentals of the sport, but disallow full-contact strikes and submissions.
Students could benefit from learning basic principles like discipline, focus and leadership, while gaining a better understanding of self-confidence.