If you’ve been watching Saturday Night Live at all this season, you’re probably familiar with the man pictured above. If not, his name is Jebediah Atkinson, and he is an 18th-century critic who has panned such universally-praised speeches and holiday specials as The Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” and worst of all, the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Essentially, Atkinson serves as the voice of today’s overly-cynical internet trolls, and could criticize a sunset for not being orangey enough.
The reason I bring this up is because it appears that the MMA world has found its real-life answer to Jebediah Atkinson. His name is Tim Rothfield of Australia’s Courier Mail, and he recently wrote an article — well, not so much an article as a series of fragmented sentences and laughable attempts at posing insightful questions — describing the legendary battle between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva at Fight Night 33 as “barbaric savagery.” A few highlights:
On Saturday night on Fuel TV I witnessed the brutality and bloodshed of the UFC – apparently, and worryingly, the world’s fastest growing sport.
This was nothing but barbaric savagery that should be banned in this country.
The fact women were allowed to fight on the card was an even bigger disgrace.
What does it say about our society?
Rothfield is, of course, wrong. That he attempts to use the UFC’s popularity as a comment on “society” should tell you all you need to know about his ability to present an original thought, but perhaps more disturbing than Rothfield’s takedown of Fight Night 33 has been how we have chosen to respond to it.
In the time since the article was published, MMA fans around the world have attacked Rothfield in droves via the original article and his Twitter page, labeling him a “fag” and a “pussy” among other things. While this response was to be somewhat expected given the inane ignorance of the sport displayed in his article, our decision to match Rothfield’s stupidity tit-for-tat with petty name calling has only furthered the perception that most MMA fans are short-fused troglodytes with an inability to form a coherent counter argument. It doesn’t help that one of the people who responded to Rothfield’s article in like fashion was Dana White.
We are a reactionary species, that much is obvious. Far too often, we view a criticism of something we hold dear as a criticism of ourselves and become fiercely protective in response — just look at how we have reacted to the early negative reviews for The Hobbit 2: Electric Smaugaloo without even seeing the film yet. But for once, I beg you guys to just let this one slide. Clearly, Rothfield knows next to nothing about the hardships MMA athletes go through, the skills necessary to compete in the sport, etc. Clearly, he wrote a reactionary article with little more intention behind it than stirring the hornet’s nest. But just as you wouldn’t argue with a child over the birds and the bees, you probably shouldn’t quarrel with a writer who is talking out his ass for the sake of page clicks. Rothfield’s mind has already been made up in regard to our fair sport, and calling him a “fag” will do nothing to change it.
Should the Rothfields of the world continue to cover sports they do not understand? Probably not, but that’s the Courier Mail’s problem to figure out. But by choosing to rake Rothfield over the coals for his adorably uneducated article rather than simply dismissing it, we have validated his decision to write said article in the first place. It’s not a startling revelation by any means, I know, but since the damage has already been done, we might as well try to learn from it.
So I say again, MMA fans: Please let this one go. We all know that Rothfield is wrong, and that’s all that should really matter. In any case, we damn sure won’t force him to see the err of his ways with a bunch of childish insults and personal attacks.