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Levick: How far is too far?

Being a die-hard sports fan I have been to my share of live sporting events and there is always a case of one fan completely going overboard when criticizing an athlete. Being in New York, where the fans are as passionate as anywhere else, I have heard some of the most vulgar and disgusting things said to an athlete.

As a fan and as a paying customer just how far is too far? Is it too far when we scream obscenities at an athlete for making an error or missing an open jump shot? Is it going too far when we continuously criticize a star player from the stands for a mistake he has made off the field?

Ever since I became a fan of mixed martial arts I have come to appreciate some very important attributes that these great athletes possess within themselves. First and foremost they work and train as hard if not harder than any other athlete today. There is no off-season for a mixed martial artist. Yes they get some down time in between fights but in this day and age they are constantly working to try and improve as well as keep up with the competition.

Secondly, the respect they show not only themselves but their opponents is unmatched by any other sport. Sportsmanship in MMA is one of the main reasons I have put my heart and soul into not only being a fan but being a journalist covering this great sport as well.

With that being said, it really pains me when two fighters step into the cage and lay it all on the line only to have the fans boo because the fight wasn’t exciting enough or there wasn’t a finish. If you ask me the majority of the fans doing the booing wouldn’t have the guts to step into that cage and fight another human being.

As I said earlier I realize that there is a certain amount of rights afforded to a paying customer; they work hard and they want to be entertained. They are looking for a release and a way to forget about their everyday lives and what goes on at the office. What bothers me though is when someone boos or shouts an obscenity to a fighter while they are doing their post-fight interview. I say give the guy a break, he trained for months to get ready for this fight, probably forsaking his family and friends and becoming a recluse in order to prepare for this fight.

With other sports I can almost understand when a fan gets upset when a player makes an error especially one that should have and could have been avoided, maybe they were daydreaming in the field. In mixed martial arts these athletes are risking life and limb each and every time they fight. They do it because they love the sport and they love to entertain the fans. This isn’t like other sports, these fighters know that one mistake and their careers could be over at the drop of a hat. They go into each and every fight with the intention of putting on their best possible performance, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way they had hoped.

So the next time you are watching an MMA fight please try and remember all that goes into preparing for the fight and the consequences each fight has. A loss or an injury could spell the end of a fighter’s career. One thing I implore you to remember before you start booing, criticizing and screaming obscenities at a fighter is that they have shown you and their opponent an unbelievable amount of respect by just stepping into that cage, the least you could do is return the favor.

  • TK says:

    Thank you this is something I havd been saying for years….. if you were not entertained by a fight I can kinda understand booing I wouldnt do it but I guess its more understandable… what really peeves me is fat ass slobs calling fighters ” pussies”….

  • Gono>UFC says:

    This is essentially my biggest beef with MMA fans, both “hardcore” and “casual”. They boo and complain anything that goes to a decision, regardless if it was a 15 or 25 minute war.

    Most times it seems like anything short of a toughman competition isn’t good enough to appease the majority. It sucks.

  • I have been attending sporting events since I was very young and to hear some drunk obnoxious person scream and yell at an athlete always got my blood boiling. It takes a lot to get out there and perform, especially as a fighter. I don’t care how good you are, everyone gets nervous and they deserve some respect shown to them just for attempting to fight.

  • kingtcb says:

    Agreed 100%. These mma guys are pure athletes in every sense of the word. I trained mma for 5 years thus far and its the hardest sport I have ever done and I wrestled 4 years in hs was a varsity baseball player who later played tripple a ball across the country. I have trained with a few ufc fighters b4 they made the ufc and these guys could run circles around me and I’m no slouch. I have more respect for the edgars. Sherks. Guidas. And guys who can grind out a 15 or 25 min decision then a guy who knocks someone out in the first min because if he doesn’t he is gassed and can’t finish a fight. Also I hate to say it like this but if arod makes an error in the field he just let his whole team down not to mention his 200 million dollar contract. Mma fighters fight to survive and they need to worry about there future in the sport b4 they can go out and throw causion to the wind just to make some fat ass in the crowd smile

  • meatloaf says:

    Bryan people being drunk and obnoxious isn’t exclusive to sporting events it part of this society we live in. People aren’t going to change and if you’ve been attending sporting events since you were very young you should have grown use to how nauseating people get when they have a few drinks in them.

  • HexRei says:

    it’s sad that this had to be said, but it did, and probably will need to be said over and over. there always is that one drunk asshole with the overwhelming sense of entitlement who wants to ruin it for everybody. whenever possible, i throw my drink on that person.

  • Grappo says:

    Seems like most of the “fans” in Chicago buy their tickets just so they can boo anything and everything. It must drive the sensible fans there insane, since it annoys the piss out of me and I’m just watching on TV.

    It shows a real lack of knowledge and appreciation.

  • iamphoenix says:

    i was at affliction 2 and when lauzon got kicked in the nads for the 3rd time there was shouts of pussy! and suck it up!!!

    he got kicked in the nuts! what do you expect him to do??? little r-e-s-p-e-c-t is needed, drunk or not.

  • I realize that there are always going to be drunk morons and it’s a fact of life but there are plenty of sober idiots who think they can get in and battle it out with these guys. Those “tough guys” are the ones calling fighters “puss**s and other crap. Hey Phoenix nice to see you over here. Thanks for comment.

  • iamphoenix says:

    no problem….

    there was one guy who sat behind me and they couldn’t shut up for the whole thing. yappin’ about nothing….he claimed he was an mma fighter for six months….

  • TechIsGood says:

    This is why MMA fans in Japan are the best imo. They respect the fighters.

  • I agree that the Japanese fans are very respectful but they also seem to lack any real emotion. It’s tough because a lot of fighters seem to rely on the energy from the crowd a lot of the time. It’s sort of a catch-22 because sometimes that energy is very negative.

  • dmayeda says:

    Hey Bryan, good opening article (assuming this is your first here). The only part that’s a little conflicting is when you say, “In mixed martial arts these athletes are risking life and limb each and every time they fight … This isn’t like other sports, these fighters know that one mistake and their careers could be over at the drop of a hat.”

    That’s probably true in a few sports out there. Also, I think one of the things that’s happened with MMA over the years is you have lots of fans/fighters/promoters pumping up the sport by saying it’s the toughest one out there where the fighters put their lives on the line each time they enter the cage/ring.

    On the other hand, you have the exact same fans/fighters/promoters saying how safe the sport is in an attempt to shed stereotypes of excessive danger and get it sanctioned world-wide. So ya know, which one is it? If the sport is safe, don’t say every match is life-threatening. If it’s dangerous, don’t say it’s safe. Do we go with the promotional message of “danger” that entices fans, or follow the route leading to sanctioning that notes “safety?”

    And those are not necessarily questions just for you. Again, I think it’s a conflicting set of messages that tons of people in the MMA community simultaneously purport without realizing it.


  • I see your point and I tend to agree. I guess it is all in how that particular promoter wants to promote their organization. I like the honor and dedication aspect of the sport while others may just like watching sheer violence. It is weird how safety is preached yet there is always that chance that this fight could be a fighter’s last.

    Thanks for checking it out Dave I really appreciate it.

  • Angry Mike says:

    Ok, how about a creative solution. Set up a second cage or holding pen for all the disgruntled fans who want to boo. You have to be in the cage to boo and can be tossed by security if you are in the audience and boo. At the end of the fight both fighters have the right to pull one of the people out of the cage for a “tutorial”. Now that would generate some cheering.

  • Now that would be entertaining!


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