As you may or may not know, Americans are freaking out about the state of the economy right now. Something about gas prices and houses and the value of the dollar, I don’t really pay attention. I leave most of my financial planning to this really nice homeless guy I met a while back. We just diversified my portfolio to include both kinds of vodka: flavored and unflavored. Things are looking up.
Jerry Magee of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via MMA Payout) has an interesting article linking the rough economic times with a booming combat sports environment. Just as boxing thrived during the Great Depression, he says, MMA is experiencing a similar boost these days:
In periods when Americans are up against it, they crave distractions. Boxing and MMA are among them, as Armando Garcia is aware. At Pechanga, Garcia, executive officer of the California Athletic Commission, said he was rummaging around his Sacramento office and he came across a report for the fiscal year 1925 that showed the commission’s revenues for that year (from licensing fees and the commission’s share of gates) had come to just more than $100,000.
In 2004-2005, the commission’s revenues, according to Garcia, totaled $441,000. For 2005-2006, Garcia’s first in office, they reached $1.1 million. They hit $1.6 by the next reporting date. For the fiscal year just concluding, they are at $2.136 million, with boxing and MMA each having generated more than a half-million at the gates.
It’s an interesting theory. Quoting statistics on live event gates doesn’t necessarily prove it, especially since MMA has only recently come into its own as a mainstream sport with widespread appeal and acceptance, but it’s still worth thinking about. Magee’s thesis about hard times leading to a strong desire for distractions makes you wonder, what does he think Americans are doing when times are good? Staying home and staring at their bank statements?
Okay, so maybe when times are good they’re taking vacations and buying boats and taking their mistresses out to fancy dinners — all the stuff I imagine rich people do. But entertainment is popular pretty much all the time, and it would seem that the entertainment industry does better when people can afford the cost and the leisure time to enjoy it.
Just recently MMA super-agent and Adrenaline MMA promoter Monte Cox blamed the slow economy and high gas prices on the poor attendance to his organization’s inaugural event, and that reasoning also seemed sound. So which is it?
Is there something about the desperate struggle of fighting that attracts desperate poor people? Or are poor people more likely to stay home and fight their family members over the last can of beans? Either way, as long as they keep buying that vodka my future is secure. See you at the yacht club, suckers.