People and Fighting and Brain Damage

by Sociology is a Science



It’s becoming better and better understood how massive blows to the skull bloody the brain and prematurely age the body.

Football players and boxers are the easiest cases to find. The culprit is a protein, tau, which builds in the brain as nerve axons are severed (these axons, and their synapses are the physiological structure of the mammal brain). Tau inhibits the growth of new synaptic connections, while, of course, preventing the re-growth of the ones severed after each successive concussion the athlete endures. 

The build-up of tau protein causes Alzheimers disease among countless other more subtle forms of mental deterioration.

So, I guess sports that injure brains aren’t the best. Luckily, I don’t really give a shit about football. It’s too fucking slow and un-athletic a sport, but the guys are great athletes (most), no disputes there. 

I do like fighting, however. Modern mixed-martial arts (MMA) fighting is fast paced, honest and brutal — modern gladiators. And not those goddamn gladiators with the red, white and blue frilly spandex underwear swinging gigantic foam toothpicks at each other.

Good mixed martial arts fighting is fairly simple; real people who just train all day to, as athletically as possible, beat the christ out of an equally skilled opponent.

Fighting is an obvious hit (pun intended bitches, I’m going for every fucking joke here) among humans, as it is probably the oldest sport known to humankind.

Thus, the UFC has gained a large degree of notoriety as the largest mixed martial arts company in the world:

Lately, however, the UFC has come under some heat from critics who say the sport poses an imminent threat to brain health, as serious damage can be done to the brain with less than a handful of serious concussions and UFC fighters routinely suffer two or three more than that throughout a career.

Fighting includes punches and elbows and knees and kicks…all of which should be to the opponents brain if one wants to win. 

The elephant in the room is that the word “fighting” has been used as a euphemism for “behaviors tailored to produce damaged brains in other humans”. If brains drive behavior, and the point of fighting is to cease the threatening behavior of another, brain damage sounds like plan A.

So the challenge for the UFC, and its president Dana White, is to find some way to promote supremely skilled brain damagers to the American public. In some ways, this is not hard. We are Americans, for chrissakes, show me some titties and some motherfucker getting blown away with a shotgun into a tanker which explodes and then more titties. So gratuitous violence….sells. 

Buuuut… do you get fighters to fight spectacular, energetic matches with one another? How do you get them to fight the “exciting” fights that the UFC profits from, and that the American public wants to see? After all, these guys know about the brain damage they are warmly inviting each time they step into the ring or cage. So, for the fighters, it pays to play it smart and safe in a fight instead of being wild and crazy  and athletic and, most of all, entertaining.

Here’s, the deal. First let’s get it straight that when UFC President Dana White (and anyone else) asks for “exciting fights,” they are asking for fights with brain damage.

Which I’m fucking fine with, by the way. If these fighters want to get in a cage and beat the soul and the shit out of one another, let ’em….But this is where the important point needs to be made…. 

We always hear about how much athletes get paid, how they are disgustingly rich and lead equally lavish and pathetic lives marked more by style and wealth than by substance and creativity. I’m with everyone on this. Kobe Bryant can go right on and get fucked by an elephant seal before he makes a penny more than 100k in my utopia (and the owners even less! The bastards!)

But fighting is different. Fighting is special. Fighting is where human grit and heart and creativity and skill and wit and strategy are on full, pure, raw display. Professional mixed martial arts fights usually only last a few rounds, maybe 3 or 4, when they’re good. And good fights, between equally talented adversaries, are physically brutal. Yes, above all, after a good fight each fighter should look like God himself came down and thunder-cock-slapped the spaghetti out of him. 

So I’m totally onboard with calling pro basketball/ tennis/ golf/ baseball/ football etc. player pay egregious and obscene to any thinking person….

But not so with fighting. Dana White should be ashamed of what he pays his athletes — the UFC should have the highest athlete pay of any sport in the world. As a very simple, basic, humane matter of human respect and decency. These guys (and GIRLS, I know, I know, just stop complaining) go to work each day in the face of guaranteed brain damage. 

Let’s agree on this, shall we? For a professional fighter to fight exciting fights is for them to seek to provide, and be open to receiving, copious helpings of brain damage. Moreover, no other major sport, with their offensively inflated salaries, asks its athletes to invite a mere fraction of the risk a typical mixed martial arts professional does over a career.

So let’s start giving the RIGHT athletes these grossly materialistic, filthy rich, lavish, lives. Let’s start treating people who put their very mental ability on the line for entertainment as the richest, most valuable among us. 

That way, though no compensation can be given for the lost vibrancy of memories and personalities in aged fighters, at least the years they DO have are essentially financially boundless. 

Gain some money, to lose one’s mind, all of life’s a trade-off, this one’s mine.