Two of Wetaskiwin’s city councillors approached the slippery slope of censorship regarding sports entertainment in the city during a recent council meeting.
While the councillors have absolutely every right to not be a fan of MMA sports, care needs to be taken when linking the sport to negative physical violence in the community and making decisions for residents on what they should and should not be viewing.
Unified MMA (mixed martial arts) and the Central Alberta Combative Sports Commission’s applied to hold an MMA demonstration event in the city.
Council is seeking more information on the event before coming to a decision, and there could be multiple reasonable explanations a municipal council could pass up such an event: scheduling at the facility, costs, potential liability issues. However, immediately passing over the event without further investigation, based on personal opinions, would have been a mistake.
The debate on whether or not those who participate in violent sports are violent people has been going on for years.
While sports such as MMA and boxing are about forcing an opponent to submit though physical violence the sport also places an important focus on principles such as self-discipline and respect.
What is more plausible is that violent people are drawn to violent sports; meaning they could be dangerous to society without that specific stimulation, making the sport itself one of victims as more and more incidents surround the industry.
Wetaskiwin is already home to a high caliber team playing the sport of hockey, which is definitely a violent sport. Even if the Icemen are not a violent team it could still spark an interest in the sport for residents, potentially giving them the opportunity to view a more violent team.
There is also a Taekwondo school in Wetaskiwin. Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.
If the residents of Wetaskiwin are so vulnerable that they need to be protected from sports entertainment the city could probably finish the task and remove all violent video games, movies, and sports equipment from the local shopping centres and purge the library of any violence-theme books, just in case.
Or council could embrace a group that wants to bring excitement, revenue, and visitors to the city and forget the censoring.
Amelia Naismith is the reporter for The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.