Iowa Tries to Ban Mixed Martial Arts

By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 3, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — In the state of Iowa, the Senate has voted to remove Mixed Martial Arts from regulation, but this is a back door approach to outlawing Mixed Martial Arts.

Boxing, wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts are regulated by the Department of Labor, but the labor commissioner has recommended that the Mixed Martial Arts be removed from regulations.

This was not done as a libertarian move to eliminate one less sport from government regulations but to remove the State of Iowa any liability from injuries.

While many of the legislators have decried this sport as “barbaric,” I suspect that most have not really seen the sport live or for that matter, bother to research how dangerous this sport is compared to other more popular sport.

Some 400,000 athletes will seek medical attention from football injuries every year and a few will die as result of head injuries. While football authorities have made the sport safer, there is still risk and there is nothing that can be done to eliminate all risk.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Young have seen their career’s cut short due to a series of concussion. Other sports have their own risks.

Hockey players face similar problems with concussion as football players and NASCAR racers see the death as a constant partner. No one is asking for any of these sports to be banned.

Yet there is no evidence that risk to a martial artist is any higher than these other sports and the nature of the sport may make it safer. The biggest fear for any fighter is taking too many punches to the head and certainly many boxers have suffered long term damage due to head shots.

Head shots due to vicious tackles can shorten careers and that doesn’t count the injuries that have debilitated many football players over a lifetime.

For many martial artists, their defensive skills reduce the number head shots they actually receive and majority of the action actually occurs on the ground as many of these artists have excellent mat skills through the various submission skills including wrestling, judo and Jiu Jitsu.

Many Iowa fans will recognize much of the action as wrestling is probably the number three sport in Iowa behind Football and basketball. Ground action reduces head contact and even when many of the artist attempts to do punching during ground attacks, they often fail to make solid shots.

This doesn’t mean that serious head shots don’t occur or that blood gets spilled. It does but there is no evidence that has been released that it is more dangerous than most of other sports.

The real reason behind the move to deregulate in Iowa is merely a prelude to outlaw the sport within the state of Iowa. As one promoter noted recently, more athletes may actually get hurt, “Since unscrupulous promoters may hold events under unsafe conditions.”

Why the Senate moved in this direction as oppose to outright ban is that many legislators are not willing to ban the sport. One Senator saw through the shell game and voted against it but not because it was the wrong to do but because he wants outright ban.

Senator Herman C. Quirmbach of Ames stated, “That’s not a sport, it is a barbaric, disgusting, degrading and subhuman activity that really has no place in the state of Iowa.”

This is the nanny state at its most arrogance, with legislators deciding what is best for us all. Many sports have been denounced in similar fashion. A few years back, there was a movement to ban boxing and in the early 20th century, many attempted to outlaw football, today’s America number one passion.

The same words said about mixed martial arts have been said about boxing and football. Mixed Martial Arts is becoming a fast growing sport and many fans have spoken with their pocketbook.

The real question is should Iowa ban a sport with willing participants and substantial fan base? I will argue no. Today, they come to eliminate the mixed martial arts, tomorrow it will be boxing and then who knows?