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Is There a Generation Gap When It Comes to MMA?

Here’s how I know I’m right about certain things: Bill O’Reilly disagrees with me. I know that sounds like a simplistic world view, but it’s held up remarkably well thus far. Things I believe in — supporting my arguments with logic or facts, treating those who disagree with me with dignity and respect — he is solidly against. That’s fine with me.

I don’t mean to mix politics with MMA. To me, Bill O’Reilly isn’t even representative of a political view so much as a demographic one. You know who likes O’Reilly, who really thinks that he’s expressing an honest viewpoint and not just ranting about whatever he thinks will drum up ratings? Old people. The guy who’s always yelling at people to stay off his lawn, he looooves Bill O’Reilly.

That’s why it doesn’t surprise me to see O’Reilly once again going after MMA with the same inane arguments. Apparently, MMA on TV is a sign that our society is failing, that we’ve become the Roman Empire, etc. Again, this isn’t a political stance, but it does seem to be consistent with a certain age group. Is it possible that old people, for whatever reason, will just never get MMA?

In a way, that seems strange to me. Look at boxing. Look at any sport, really. Your grandfather is more likely to tell you what a bunch of sissies pro athletes are today than he is to complain about anything being too violent. The stories about Ty Cobb sharpening his cleats, the brawling sixties and seventies in the NBA, the naked brutality of turn-of-the-century boxing — these get held up as signs of the good old days.

So why is MMA — which is statistically safer than boxing — such a popular target?

The easy answer is, it’s new. The same way your grandfather isn’t going to waste his time figuring out the internet, he isn’t interested in hearing about the intricacies of the ground game. It’s in a cage, there’s blood (P.S. anti-blood is a strange stance for a pro-war hawk like O’Reilly, no?), and he’s never seen anything like it on CBS before.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but this seems fairly consistent. It just seems so counterintuitive. Since when are old people opposed to violent sports? And how can you possibly make a connection between a sport that’s no more dangerous than boxing or football and the destruction of society?

The gladiator analogy obviously doesn’t hold up, because gladiators were slaves and they often fought to the death. Not to mention, for all you history buffs, the Romans didn’t somehow discover gladiatorial combat a few years before the destruction of their empire. They didn’t discover it at all. They learned it. It was a fairly common practice, and they weren’t the only ones who enjoyed it. It went in and out of fashion, but the Romans had a pretty good run even while engaging in it.

My point is, there’s no reason to even argue this stuff with people like O’Reilly. Just like there’s no point in trying to convince my dad that punk music is awesome. It isn’t going to work. If anything, we should just remember that these arguments against MMA don’t come from any rational point of view. They come from the same reactionary stance that hates new-fangled ideas.

My grandfather’s not about to start text-messaging, and people like O’Reilly aren’t going to get MMA. That’s the way the world is, I suppose. It’s just shame those people get to have TV shows and run the government.

(-Ben Fowlkes)


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Beef Jerky- June 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm
If the fight was on FoxSports. would Bill have done the same segment? Doubt it. Where's the O'Reilly Factor story on all the violence in the NFL. Last time I checked, people bleed in that sport, too
Dr.- June 8, 2008 at 3:55 pm
O'Reilly will be dead in 30 years (hopefully less) and the only thing people will remember him for is his inaccurate opinions made from the hip. Oh, and that he was a little bitch.

I don't even need to blow holes in his tissue paper argument about the comparison with boxing. Not worth the time or energy. What is worth the energy is laughing at this moron.

Bill, you make a funny show and the best is that you're actually trying to not be a comedy. You've legitimized stupidity. Congrats.
JohnS- June 7, 2008 at 9:21 pm
I am a little confused how fake blood and fake fighting is any less "violent" than MMA. These people have no knowledge of Martial Arts and are the same people who labeled it " human cockfighting" in the early days.
Anonymous- June 7, 2008 at 11:51 am
Funny seeing how it has been on spike for a couple of years and no one said a word. Yet now that it is on cbs, Watch out its now on Bill O'Reily's radar.
Mike- June 7, 2008 at 3:24 am
To add something I forgot to my above post, age has nothing to do with what you'll like. My dad, who is in his 50s loves the UFC. When I speak of "that" generation, I speak of the men in their late 60s who are so damn stuck in their ways they can't see past their noses.

And just to add, their generation was sooo much better than ours right? Free sex, drugs, protesting everything. Maybe if you'd of been taking care of your kids instead of doing every line put in front of your face the preceeding generations wouldn't have "fallen" as far as they did.

And let's face it, old white (and yes I can say white since I am too) political men (for the most part) just want to ruin everything that they slightly dislike.
Mike- June 7, 2008 at 3:24 am
To add something I forgot to my above post, age has nothing to do with what you'll like. My dad, who is in his 50s loves the UFC. When I speak of "that" generation, I speak of the men in their late 60s who are so damn stuck in their ways they can't see past their noses.

And just to add, their generation was sooo much better than ours right? Free sex, drugs, protesting everything. Maybe if you'd of been taking care of your kids instead of doing every line put in front of your face the preceeding generations wouldn't have "fallen" as far as they did.

And let's face it, old white (and yes I can say white since I am too) political white men (for the most part) just want to ruin everything that they slightly dislike.
Mike- June 7, 2008 at 3:13 am
To the guy who said that "To the untrained eye it looks like a street fight that’s been moved inside a cage and put on tv" I'm sorry, but if O'Riley did not first do his homework on a topic he was going to bring up on his show then he's an idiot and he's doing trash journalism. It's plain and simple, you don't run your mouth, espically on national television about something you know nothing about. It makes you look dumb. Sorry all you O'Riley supporters but that was an IDIOT thing to do. Not only that but where was someone to defend MMA? So first he runs his mouth about a subject he clearly hasn't looked into for more than 5 minutes, then he fills his pannel with a bunch of people who are only on his side? Telling only his opinion? Trash journalism, propoganda, call it what you want, it's shit and he's an idiot for doing that.

How can you defend someone who is spreading propoganda and shitty journalism? I sure as hell wouldn't get on TV and presume to speak about a subject I knew dick about.

Love MMA or hate it you won't stop it. I have done football, baseball, wrestling, and now MMA and I can tell you MMA is much more athletically challenging than any other sport, it's also much safer. And to say that pro wrestling, which features men who still, no matter what you say whether it is real or fake, display violence on television (throwing men through tables, hitting them with chairs) and still bleed, albeit they cut themselves (btw try explaining to an 8 year old that that is fake), is less violent than MMA is insane! You must be smoking meth, it still displays violence, much more violence than MMA does.

It's not surprising those views are the same ones of the old men who have run this country into the ground lately (woo hoo repubs!)

The only light of hope in all of this is that THAT generation is dying off, in another 20 years we won't have to put up with them.
Armbreaker- June 6, 2008 at 11:31 pm
I feel slightly misunderstood and offended. I am 49, take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lessons, love MMA, send text messages, and (obviously) use the internet. I am also a grandfather, and my step-grandson started taking karate and BJJ lessons the month after he turned 4. He loves it, especially the BJJ. I have learned that anytime you categorize people based on a characteristic, such as age, you are often wrong.
JustinD- June 6, 2008 at 11:05 pm

Dont ever listen to Bill O'reilly unless its this movie please.
Well do it live.
MKXii- June 6, 2008 at 8:40 pm
Rofl @ him saying bloodbath.

Yeah MMA really dumbs down society, all shows should be like Desperate Housewives and etc. they really teach America valuables.
TheQuinn- June 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm
God i hate Bill o' Reilly. i always laugh when people bring up stuff like "oh i saw it on O'reilly last night." yeah well then youre just a big an idiot as he is.
LukeTheDuke- June 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm
"Big political influences" like O'Reilly and his cronies find entertainment and take pleasure in the most callous, brutal, and bloodthirsty game of them all: Politics. MMA was known as Pankration a long ass time ago(648B.C.), it was the ultimate test of skill, coordination and athleticism. In 648 B.C. Politics was known as imposing your will and massacring anyone that stood in your way, I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed much. Which is more civil eh?
I challenge Bill O'Reilly to a cage match. gimme some "Here Here's"
Anonymous- June 6, 2008 at 1:58 pm
Mr. B- June 6, 2008 at 1:32 pm
Bill O works for a propaganda network that is run by Roger Ailes (used to work for Reagan). I wouldn't put to much stock into what Bill says. (Hell, Fox is now saying that Regan was a lefty.) Politics makes strange bedfellows. Al Gore led a crusade again the rock group Twisted Sister. Comic books got the blame for the countrys ills in the 50s. Betty Page was blamed for the state of our country.

It is much easier to blame popular culture than corrupt Republicans or their disorganzied corrupt Democratic counterparts. Democrats are so disorganized that they can't even attempt to impeach Bush. Clinton nearly got impeached over cheating on his wife. If cheating on your wife is a major crime, then they are going to have to build a great many more prisons.

Mark Foley (Republican internet Czar, supposed to protect minors from sexual deviants on the web), got caught multiple times trying to get into the beds of young male teen staffers in DC. (The Republicans warned the young male interns to be wary of Mr. Foley.) He was caught sending electronic messages to young boys, trying to get a booty call. It is bad enough that he is a pedophile, but his political task was to protect the very same children.

The Democrats are totally worthless. They can't even stand up to a propaganda network like Fox. If you were to call a MMA fighter a "Halfrican American"; I'd expect security would throw you our of the arena. (Halfrican American is a term used on Fox.)

I have to agree with the general consensus that boxing is more deadly than MMA. MMA has better refs (safety for fighters is paramount), far fewer head shots, only one knockout shot (ref calls the fight, if man can't defend self.) and it acceptable to tap out. There is no overwhelming shame with throwing in the towel. MMA is a fantastic sport, with a safety record that is nearly impossible to beat.

Sorry for the long post. Three things really get my blood boiling, racists, pedophiles and Fox news. If Fox news hired a racist pedophile, then my freaking head would probably explode.
Tim- June 6, 2008 at 8:18 am
Bill O'Reily is an idiot. I am a hardcore right wing republican so I often agree with O'Reily's points of view (clearly not here) and I still can't stand listening to him. He doesn't give any good counter arguments but just resorts to inerupting and cutting off people he doesn't agree with. If your gonna have a debate show do some research on the things you debate and put forth a solid case don't just interupt people who you disagree with and talk about stuff you have no idea what your talking about. I mean come on CBS wants someone to die in there? Is that why the fights were all stopped prematurely and there has been how many deaths in mma? That's right 0. I mean you don't have to like mma but you should probably do a bit more research before you say its going to lead to the downfall of our society.
tully- June 6, 2008 at 6:05 am
bill oreilly is a sadist. a sadist will do whatever it takes to downgrade anything. dont take anything he says seriously, he is a sick sick man.
Anonymous- June 6, 2008 at 4:34 am
I love how the other old guy say that MMA is not as big a threat to society as terrorism. Is that even an apt comparison to make? Sometimes this show really seems more like an SNL parody of the show itself. Like Will Ferrell is comparing MMA to terrorism or baby-eating. Go Bill! Failing to show any real intellect or insight, or challenging the intellect or insight of your viewers is obviously working for you! Somehow this show seems more like WWF than MMA does. (not saying mma is anything like fake wrestling, just drawing a comparison)
Old, Bald and Irish- June 6, 2008 at 4:28 am
Since I'm old, as well as bald and Irish, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on this.

First off, I ocasionally watch Mr. O'Reilly.

C'mon, he's Irish! Lighten up! Of course he's gonna mouth off on his opion and he's hot under the collar. HE'S IRISH! of these days, people will realize exactly why we have "stereotypes".....

Anyways, O'Reilly can stick his rant against MMA waaaaay up his shiny ass. If that's his opinion: who cares. Opinions are like assholes: everybody's got one. So who gives a damn if that's how he feels. Move on and don't sweat it.

Can the whole "don't like MMA" be generational? I'm not sure if it's that easy. There are a lot of people much younger than I who just don't get the "whole MMA thing".

On the other hand, I roll with housewives in their mid-thirties who think MMA rocks. One of them is even hosting the latest "Fight Night" Saturday for the UFC event. I roll with guys closing in on fifty and they live to spar and grapple.

I actually think that it comes down to knowledge of the sport. It's not as easy to pick up the purpose and nuiance of the action. To a casual observer who knows nothing about BJJ or the martial arts, I'm sure it seems quite barbaric. but once you understand the sport, the outlook changes. Sports like baseball, soccer and football are pretty straight forward. Yes, there are fine points to the rules, but overall, its easy to comprehend the purpose of the sport. When was the last time you were sitting watching a baseball game and someone said "I have no fucking idea what's going on"? Not likely. The purpose of the sport is self evident. MMA requires knowledge to really understand the sport. When people compare MMA to boxing, they think it's apples to apples. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm not knocking boxing, it's just a little more "straight-forward" sport than MMA.

MMa is more like horse racing. Do the horses run around the track to win? Yes. Do guys beat each other up in MMA to win? Yes. Are either that simply described? Certainly not. The fine-points in both sports are what make it special. Unfortunately, these fine points are lost on the casual viewer.

To sum up: I think it's not so much generational as it is knowledge of the sport. People will quickly knock that which they don't understand.

And if you want to see some real physical brutality, tune in to any football game. People just accept that a blown ACL is part of the game. Those same folks grimace at the sight of blood on a fighters face.

Gimme a break...
Anonymous- June 6, 2008 at 4:24 am
Dex- June 6, 2008 at 4:24 am
Where is the counterpoint? Where is the Pro-MMA person on this panel?

Bill is a douche.
phil magroin- June 6, 2008 at 4:17 am
Bill Oreilly and Nancy Grace should just fuck and get it overwith.
Mark- June 6, 2008 at 4:08 am
26 and a fan of Boxing, MMA, and Bill O'Reilly. Enter the no spin zone. O'Reilly and the rest of main stream media are aiming their viewpoint to their main demographic which are not the same people who are MMA fans, but don't rip Bill.
Fight Fan- June 6, 2008 at 3:58 am
I'm an MMA fan and I watch O'Reilly on a regular basis. AND I'm 30! Yeah, stunning. Before everyone gets there panties in a wad every time MMA gets criticized by the "non believers", try thinking about it from the perspective of someone who's uneducated about the sport. To the untrained eye it looks like a street fight that's been moved inside a cage and put on tv. The people that feel this way probably won't change their minds because they're not going to educate themselves about the sport. So...WE HAVE TO! I know it's rocket science, but stay with me...

Ben, instead of bitching about O'Reilly's segment and leaving it at that, how about you contact his people and see if they'll have you on the show. Contrary to what you might think, O'Reilly has people on the show ALL THE TIME that disagree with him, although you wouldn't know it from that clip. If people learn that MMA isn't the modern day version of a gladiator death match, we might actually get a few more converts and a few less haters.

I didn't use to be an MMA fan because I honestly thought it wasn't much more than a street fight. A friend of mine started telling me about it and I realized that there was so much more to the sport than I thought. A year and a half later and I'm a diehard fan. See, that wasn't so hard now, was it?
fox news sucks- June 6, 2008 at 3:35 am
Fox News Sucks big ass ballz
Mercus- June 6, 2008 at 2:56 am
I also enjoy how O'Reilly doesn't have anyone on to Defend MMA, there is no other point of views or mixture of opinions. It's pretty damn lame. On top of that tons have people have died in the years that boxing has been around. On average 11 people a year die from boxing, there has been one death in MMA (R.I.P Sam Vasquez). This video is really disappointing and lame to me. Great article however, well done dude.