As the brother and chief adviser to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Councillor Doug Ford carries considerable weight at City Hall. It is to be hoped his influence does not extend to the promulgation of the über-violent Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The councillor has thrown his support behind a strange partnership between the UFC and Toronto police that uses UFC fighters to discourage bullying, while at the same time getting the UFC brand in the faces of school-age children.
The Toronto Star has reported that Mr. Ford’s office has also circulated a brochure for UFC Community Works, an initiative that claims to engage “at-risk” youth by providing educational tutorials, equipment for mixed martial arts and even training sessions with UFC fighters.
Watching people bash in one another’s skulls may make for a great spectacle at the local tavern, but it has no place in our public schools.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is on record as “vigorously opposing” boxing, including mixed martial arts, as a sport for children and teens, citing risks of brain injury. The Canadian Medical Association has called for an outright ban on mixed martial arts for participants of any age.
One medical expert who has studied the sport says half of matches end in knockout, technical knockout or a “choke-out” – all of which can cause brain injuries.
A ban on mixed martial arts would be an infringement on the fundamental right of people to bloody and injure themselves, or to watch consenting adults do the same. But, even dressed up with an anti-bullying message, at a time when violence among youths is a widespread public concern, the promotion of sanctioned violence among school-age children would send an unwelcome and dangerous message.
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