twitter google

Random Rant: Promoting a Nick Diaz chat

For those of you who believe that my working for ProElite.com could compromise how I write about the sport, well, there’s something I wanted to talk about.

Take a look at the below image that appears on ProElite.com in order to promote a online chat with Nick Diaz this Thursday at 4 p.m. ET:

Nick Diaz GIF

Is it just me, or do I see the word “marijuana?”

That’s a very questionable way for an organization to promote one of its top athletes.

Would a major sports league like the NFL, NBA, or MLB promote one of its athletes in the manner in which EliteXC is doing in this instance with Diaz? Absolutely not. Would the UFC ever adopt a similar approach if Diaz was still fighting under its banner? There’s no way to know for sure but I’m almost positive they wouldn’t.

So the question is this: is the way ProElite and EliteXC is choosing to promote Diaz’s chat good for MMA’s image?

Some of you will insist that I rip ProElite for the manner in which they’ve chosen to promote Diaz. But if I did that, I’d be a hypocrite because I’m the one who wrote that EliteXC should embrace Diaz’s rebel with a cause image and promote him as a counter-culture anti-hero. Yes, I’m the guy who said they shouldn’t run from Nick’s past and should highlight his outspoken nature. I said all of those things before I ever was contacted by ProElite about a job and for all I know, maybe they are following the unsolicited public advice that I gave the company?

ProElite is walking a fine line here. If it was a hard drug or a performance enhancer, then the response would be obvious. But we’re talking about marijuana here. First off, I do not smoke marijuana. I’m married 30-year old guy with a wife and an eight-year old son. I also happen to live in a drug free school zone. I live in suburbia and am about as far away from the drug culture as you can get. That’s not to say I haven’t partaken in it in the past. I’m sure talking about my past drug history will be a turnoff to some and it’s not an area the average sports writer would touch but the last thing I want to be is the average sports writer. I tried it a few times and didn’t like it much (it made me more paranoid than I already am). Frankly, I never could understand what the big deal was.

While I never understood the allure to marijuana, I also still don’t understand the outrage over it. I just think it’s a shame that we’re prosecuting a lot of non-violent offenders in this country and sentencing them to jail in overcrowded areas of the country and in turn is allowing violent offenders to serve lighter sentences in some cases.

Marijuana definitely can be a harmful drug. I’ve seen friends get caught up in it and lose all motivation. However, I’ve also had some friends who were completely functional while on it and didn’t appear to be anywhere near as functional when they weren’t on it. But I think marijuana can be harmful if used frequently in the same way that someone who eats fast food on a regular basis starts suffering from obesity-related health issues. We’ve got 11-year old kids in this country suffering from Type 2 diabetes and while a lot of cities have begun to ban trans fat, we’re still allowing fast food companies to peddle their unhealthy products and causing healthcare costs to skyrocket (hey, can I get a discount on health insurance because I don’t eat fast food unless I’m an at airport?).

Needless to say, in my view, marijuana should be legal and fighters certainly shouldn’t be suspended for it or have the outcomes of fights changed because of it.

By now, you can pretty much guess that I don’t have a problem with Diaz’s public support of marijuana. I interviewed him a few weeks back for CBSSports.com and it was one of my favorite interviews that I’ve ever conducted. I was already a fan of Nick Diaz the fighter but it changed my opinion of Nick Diaz the person. I’d have a problem if a fighter was glamorizing the use of drugs and endorsing that anyone under the age of 18 use it. But Diaz wasn’t acting like a teenager and dropping a lot of immature marijuana references. He talked about marijuana from a lot of different adult perspectives, most notably from a political perspective. If you take the time to read the interview, Diaz raised a lot of good points. We even talked a little about it off the record and both agreed that giving people jail for non-violent drug offenses at the expense of keeping violent criminals in jail was completely backwards.

And Diaz isn’t alone in his viewpoint as the push to legalize marijuana in the U.S. is one that is shared by millions of people. I kind of get annoyed by silly stoners who talk about legalizing marijuana and when you ask them for an explanation as to why, they are completely dumbfounded. But there are also some pretty intelligent people out there making some compelling arguments about the medicinal value of marijuana.

In some ways, I like how ProElite is promoting Diaz. It’s edgey and it’s pushing the envelope and the fight game shouldn’t be an entirely politically correct word (operative word: entirely). However, at the end of the day, marijuana is illegal. Diaz should be allowed to speak his mind without fear of reprisal but promoting his past acknowledged use of of marijuana through an online image on a highly-trafficked website is not the way to go. There are some creative people at ProElite so there has to be a indirect way to push the issue without being so obvious as to put “marijuana” in bold letters.

24 COMMENTS
  • Accomando says:

    I basically agree with everyting you wrote Sam.

    “…And Diaz isn’t alone in his viewpoint as the push to legalize marijuana in the U.S. is one that is shared by millions of people. I kind of get annoyed by silly stoners who talk about legalizing marijuana and when you ask them for an explanation as to why, they are completely dumbfounded….”

    They could be dumbfounded because they see all these bums living around them, just peddleing for change looking to by a 40 oz or a Tall boy to drink, and these bums ruin the major cities and thier drug of choice is alchohol.

    I guess what I am trying to get at, is that EVERYONE knows the destruction, rape, and death that alchohol causes, and everyone is sold it, and many abuse it, and lives are destroyed because of it, and nothing is done to strop it.

    Heres a recent example, At a bar in the city next to me, 2 drunk idiots, 1, a 28 year old celebrating his buddies wedding, the other, a 50 year old drunk Illinois states attorney get in an argument (beer balls) talk shit, and the 28 yeard old, with 2 young kids, punches the states attorney in the face, the attorney falls back, hits his head, and eventually dies in the hospitol 2 weeks later. Manslaughter anyone?

    2 lives ruined in 1 night due to alchohol, and this is far from an isolated incident.

    The basic weedheads argument must be…”If alchohol is legal, and promoted, how the hell can weed not be legal or promoted?”

    There is no good answer to it except that the Alchohol lobby funds billions to politicians all over the country to guarantee thier product stays on the shelves.

    Again, great article Sam, and its stupid what Elite-XC is doing with Diaz.

  • Accomando says:

    http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2007/09/18/news/local/doc46ef98bfc8986646506878.txt

    Ok, so it was a 45 year old, and a 30 year old that fought, and the guy who died wasn’t a states attorney(oops), he was a driveway sealer.

    Driveway sealer…..which reminds me, new middleweight champ, Kelly “the ghost” Pavlik!

    For everyone who hasn’t seen the Pavlik/Taylor fight that took place this weekend, you should check it out. Those guys showed why boxing used to be really popular, just an awesome, awesome fight. Best boxing fight in a long, long time.

  • Kris says:

    When I spotted that ad last night I found it questionable at best but it’s their choice to promote him that way. Will it work for them? Who knows, I wasn’t offended by it but I can see people being offended so we’ll see how it works in the long run (assuming they continue to promote him in a similar fashion).

  • Jeremy says:

    I agree with your opinion on this totally Sam. Personally for me marijuana use isn’t a big deal, and I tend to agree with many of your thoughts on legalization of it.

    But like yourself I find it questionable at best that EliteXC is promoting Diaz in this way. Diaz adamantly complained about the whole situation with his suspension by NSAC. I don’t know how this is going to help him in the future with the NSAC or any other athletic comission. Promoting the fact that one of your fighters is openly or has openly disobeyed a athletic comission banned substance doesn’t seem like a good move business wise to me, for EliteXC or Nick Diaz.
    I don’t have a problem with them allowing Nick Diaz to express his opinions on marijuana and what he thinks about legalization. But I think promoting it takes away from Nick Diaz as a fighter. Now people will remember him as the “pot smoking” fighter or only want to talk about smoking with him. The thing is Nick Diaz is a fighter, and a excellent one at that. And that should be EliteXC’s focus with him. Because he’s one badass motherf**ker in the ring.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Nick’s public comments have to be a concern in regard to CSAC and NSAC. However, as long as Nick never tests positive again, how can they use his words against him? As an American citizen, he’s afforded the right to free speech and if he wants to express a political view that marijuana should be legalized, I don’t see how he can be suspended for words alone. However, if he tests positive again then you know those transcripts are going to be introduced into the appeal hearing.

  • Jeremy says:

    When I listened to one of Nick’s interviews since his last fight he described the situation of his drug test during his Pride fight with Gomi. It was a fiasco it seemed and one that seemed to annoy him greatly. Now maybe that was just a random case. But with EliteXC promoting him in this way what’s to say the athletic comission doesn’t do that again or even give him more tests because of it. If I were EliteXC I would want to avoid having my fighter distracted prior to his fight as much as possible and this seems to be going the other way.

    As for Diaz’s free speech, he’s certainly allowed to it, but I think it’s a bit naive to think it might not be used against him in some way. Not that they will suspend him because of it. But perhaps they give him more stringent drug testing or multiple tests(if those are even possible under the rules) or the athletic comissions give him a tougher time being approved to fight.

    When I was younger my friends and I used to tour with Phish. Now I have never once mentioned what, if any drugs, I ever did on tour to people at work. But all I have to do is mention that I went to shows and automatically things change. Suddenly I’m the Phish guy or a Deadhead(even though I never got to see a Dead show as Jerry died when I was 15). And I know for a fact at one job I had in the past, that thought went through managements thought process when thinking about promoting me to another position. My boss came right up to me and told me afterwards that at least now “I didn’t have to worry about missing and Phish shows.” Of course they weren’t touring any longer so it didn’t matter. But obviously it went into the process and it seems negatively.

    So obviously words or free speech could potentially be used against him in some way I would think that he might not like. It might not be fair but that’s the way it is.

  • jaydog says:

    Yall are missing the real controversy here: How the heck is anyone going to get a word in once Nick gets going? Does he type in the same stream of consciousness that he exhibits in live radio interviews? Is there a keystroke short cut for “MF’n” that he can use to chat more efficiently? At this point in his career, I think these are Nick’s biggest PR concerns.

    In other words, let him project whatever kind of contradictory conundrum persona that he wants. The best most other fightes can manage is to beat their chests and mimick the kind of hype they grew up watching in the WWF. In this regard, I think Nick is refreshing. He may be his own worst enemy (anger, paranoia, reactionary, self-medicating), but his big mouth is giving EliteXC a gift in terms of promotion. And, the MF can fight!

  • Tad says:

    Way to jump to conclusions, Sam!

    EliteXC isn’t promoting or making a statement at all about Nick and marajuana. ProElite.com , which as you mentioned yesterday, is run separately from EliteXC. Nick is going to be on ProElite.com on Thursday at 1pm PT to answer questions. If you look at the banner, it’s a ProElite.com banner and it has a variety of topics all to the left of a question mark. The statement that we are making at ProElite.com about Nick’s chat is that people can ask him anything they want.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Tad:

    I think that it’s cool that people will be able to ask whatever they want about Nick during his chat tomorrow at ProElite.com but I feel like ProElite is basically saying people can come out and talk about marijuana with Nick. I think most people know that Nick will address just about any subject and a lot of people know what’s in his past. I’m just saying that putting it out there as obvious as that might be a bit much.

    While EliteXC isn’t making the association, its parent company is. It might be hard for the general public to have a true appreciation of the separation of the two entities.

  • Tad says:

    I know, you’re right — it’s confusing! We’re working to get the word about the distinctions between the companies.

    ProElite.com is not the parent company of EliteXC. ProElite, Inc. is the parent company of both ProElite.com (MMA community site, live events, etc.) and EliteXC (the fight promotion company). The two sides are pretty separate. For example, I didn’t ask for approval from EliteXC when we made that banner.

    As to ProElite.com making the association between Nick and marijuana…I think you would agree that the association is already there, and the rest is advertising for the chat.

    We’re going to do a Sam Caplan banner too. Wait until you see what we put in that one! :)

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Right, I guess I wasn’t clear enough that ProElite = ProElite, Inc. ProElite.com is underneath ProElite, Inc., just like EliteXC is underneath ProElite, Inc. Both ProElite.com and EliteXC are technically separate.

    And yes, the association is already there. :) Don’t get me wrong, on one hand I love the edegy marketing and I think Nick’s persona should be spotlighted. Anytime though when you put it out there like that, it’s just a questionable area.

    A Sam Caplan banner? LOL. That should be funny. I hope you guys aren’t too harsh :) Maybe you could put the Hackleman quote about me on it?

    BTW, I guess we can announce it here, but I’ll be doing a chat on ProElite.com next Thursday. Nick’s chat tomorrow will be a hard act to follow though, I’m sure.

  • Tad says:

    Do you have Hackelman’s email address?

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Tad:

    Unfortunately, I do not. I can ask around a little later today and see if I can come up with something for you.

  • Tanner says:

    Hey sam, I know this is a bit off topic but i didn’t feel like going looking for the announcement post. I haven’t really seen to much of a drop off from your postings here but it seems as though they’re on both your ProElite and 5 oz. site. Can we expect to see things both here and there or maybe something like haveing the article over there and just pointing to it from here. Also, hows things with MMAJunkie? do you still have a partnership with them as well?

  • I think your interview was probably the catalyst for that kind of ad. I mean, it’s promoting a chat session, and that is definitely one of the subjects that will be brought up. If Tank Johnson was going to do a live chat with an NFL fan site, I wouldn’t be surprised if they hyped up his legal troubles to generate page views.

  • ted dibiase says:

    sorry to burst your bubble but i guarantee someone in your “drug free” school zone is selling weed. its a natural plant. if weed is a drug, so is sugar cane

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Ted (whoa, Ted DiBiase reads this site), my point of mentioning that I live in a drug free school zone was to say that I’m not going to mess around with drugs in an area where the penalties for getting caught with them are heightened. Even if I lived outside of a drug school zone I wouldn’t mess with the stuff, but hopefully you get my point.

  • No, Sam, I think it was pretty clear you meant that there is an invisible force field around your neighborhood that keeps out drugs, crime, and dudes with mullets on BMX bikes.

  • Anton K says:

    Obviously, Marijuana sub-culture represents a large, potent commercial demographic. For example, hip-hop music is filled with images and references to the drug… and hip hop tracks sell millions. It seems to me Diaz is aligning himself and marketing himself, wisely or unwisely, to that subcultural demographic. The marijuana leaf has long been a symbol of rebellion and “sticking it to the man”. Diaz is placing himself smack into the middle of a cultural debate that positions him as an outspoken rebel. Rebellion sells. His outspoken criticism of marijuana laws is refreshing… and a bit daring. Fans respond to that honesty, especially given the hypocrisy of the current War On Drugs. Let’s get real here and watch a Mickey’s replay, shall we? The Alcohol industry, which has a huge impact on public health, sponsors athletes… what’s up with that? Given the damage that alcohol does to society, I’d rather see a pot leaf in the center of the octagon mat than a bottle of malt liquour.

    Frankly, the ridiculous ruling by NSAC is the real culprit here. Their ruling that marijuana is a performance enhancing drug set the stage for Diaz’s image/marketing niche. The NSAC is square and out of touch. Diaz is a successful athlete who on some level, espouses the use of marijuana… Millions of Americans feel the same way about the drug. If Diaz keeps fighting and keeps winning, he’s likely positioned himself to become an icon of the marijuana movement.

    Let’s face it, if more people came out about their use of marijuana, this wouldn’t even be an issue would it?

  • Anton K says:

    One question and I’m off this point. Marijuana was recently decriminalized in Nevada. Possession of an ounce or less is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of, I believe, $300. What kind of impact should that new legislation have with respect to the NSAC ruling on a positive marijuana test?

  • Wait… fighters shouldn’t even be suspended for using marijuana? Even if it was legal, there are plenty of substances that are not illegal in the United States that are still banned substances to anyone who fights in a major athletic commission state.

  • Anton K says:

    I understand that. My point is that NSAC ruled the fight, a very brutal one, as a no-contest. Given the nature of marijuana laws in the state, that decision seems arbitrary and political.

    Sure they can suspend him, but taking away the victory is downright lame. If Diaz knew ahead of time what the penality would be, he might not have had the THC in his system at all… it just seems like NSAC makes this shit up as they go.

  • DC Jitz says:

    Great article Sam! It’s good to hear smart people who don’t smoke marijuana talk about it in a rational manner.

LEAVE A COMMENT!

You must be logged in to post a comment.