By Jay Hill
Chris Murray Report Correspondent
LONDON, England–Social issues in sport are a well-publicized topic throughout the media, today. And with how the media in many different forms is so accessible now via modern day gizmos and reading platform that surface, what feels like every other quarter, society now has a voice that wasn’t afforded to us in the past.
Whether it is racism, ageism, gender discrimination or another social implication that is often discussed regarding sport, the matters seem to be discussed most on the many forums and media platforms that inhabit the Internet’s vast landscape.
Internet World Stats recently published an infographic showing that there are currently an estimated 2.8 billion people with Internet access globally –a figure that is only set to continue to increase.
All this points to the fact that society has never had such a potent voice or ability to change circumstances they feel are incorrect or implemented in a haphazard manner.
One frequently discussed matter of late is the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in the mixed martial arts promotion, UFC. There has been a raft of high-profile fighters failing drug tests, most notably American wrestler, Chael Sonnen.
Sonnen, a supposed “company man” and one of the biggest pay per view draws in the sport failed a recent drug test and has been subsequently banned from the sport for two years. But the sanctions don’t end there: apart from losing any possible revenue from fighting for the next two years, he’s also lost his presenting job with Fox Sports.
So what are the social implications for viewers?
Sonnen was viewed by many as the UFC’s blue-eyed boy. He was someone who could do no wrong in the eyes of UFC President Dana White and a man who was essentially being groomed for bigger things.
However, all this went up in smoke when he failed the aforementioned test. For the fans of Sonnen and the UFC to see one of the poster boys of the sport fail such a test can only have a negative affect on the image of professional mixed martial arts. The damage cuts deep, very deep.
Unfortunately, it sends out so many bad messages to the MMA community. If someone of Sonnen’s profile was taking PEDs, does this mean you can only get to that level of the sport if you take PEDs? Does it mean that everyone in the sport is engaging in illegal substances to reach the elite level of the sport? The questions are boundless and the implications are extremely damaging.
The most worrisome message that it has sent out is that the use of PEDs is both needed and accepted if you can hide it. This is not a message that should be out there for the next generation of MMA nor for the fans to be reading about on the many MMA websites and social sharing platforms.
It’s an uncertain time for MMA, in general, and the only way this problem can be eradicated or at least controlled is by the organization cutting fighters from their rosters and taking a stand against PED users with more frequent drug tests.
Utilize the many social platforms to voice your opinion and instigate change. The next generation of athletes should know that you can succeed in this world by hard work, not by purchasing PEDs.