Saturday, June 26, 2010

West Virginia Law Review Article Tracing the Origins of MMA and Advocating for the Application of the Ali Act to MMA

I just finished reading this West Virginia Law Review Article, "FIGHTING FOR RESPECT: MMA’S STRUGGLE FOR ACCEPTANCE AND HOW THE MUHAMMAD ALI ACT WOULD GIVE IT A SPORTING CHANCE," by Geoff Varney and I highly recommend it for those who are interested in the sport (lawyer or not).

Geoff is a law student in West Virginia who has been actively involved with efforts to legalize MMA in West Virginia.

I think the article does an excellent job tracing the history of the sport from the ancient Olympics, i.e. Pankration, to the present day, including a discussion concerning the early days of the UFC and its initial opposition from the likes of Senator John McCain.

I thought the McCain discussion was very interesting and informative for a number of reasons, including that he compared the sport to human cockfighting in his opposition to the sport at a time when cockfighting itself was still legal in Arizona.  I also liked the analysis concerning the potential influence of the beer lobby on McCain's positions given his wife's connections in that industry, "Cindy McCain, is the daughter of James Hensley, one of the nation’s largest Anheuser-Busch distributors" and Anheuser-Busch is also one of the biggest boxing sponsors in the world."  The article also sheds some interesting light on McCain's decision to change course years-later ("[i]n 2008, Bud Light, an Anheuser-Busch brand, became the exclusive beer sponsor of the UFC"). 
Varney also discusses current issues concerning legalization in West Virginia and dispels the misinformation generally thrown around to support keeping the ban in place, including but not limited to arguments that MMA is more dangerous than boxing and other sports.

Finally, Varney analyzes the Ali Act in its current form, argues how it could easily be applied to MMA, and then articulates, very well, why the protections of the Act would be beneficial in MMA.  Specifically, he looks to various contract provisions in UFC contracts (that would run afoul of the Act if it applied to MMA) and how payouts in bonuses would also likely run afoul of the Act if it applied.

Check it out.

Fight Lawyer