Last night, on my way to Fry’s Electronics, a radio program was discussing the relative safety/non-safety of mixed martial arts competitions (MMA). The two hosts, one of them an MMA’er himself, referred to a study that found MMA has three times as many head injuries and concussions as boxing. The study consisted of watching hundreds of matches that took place during a decade period, and recording the results, so it’s not exactly like there’s a huge margin for error.
Two of the first three callers called in attacking the data, saying they don’t see how it could be true. The hosts must have supressed the sighs that I expressed out loud. It’s human nature, I suppose; if we don’t like the implications of data, we tend attack the data. That’s not to say that data-gathering methods shouldn’t be scrutinized and to make sure the research is done properly, but it shouldn’t be the automatic place we go when we don’t like the results.
The hosts mentioned a better way to defend MMA would be to look at fatality rates compared with a plethora of sports. For example, horse racing and college football both have a greater percentage of participants dying than MMA.
You could also go the route of emphasizing the fighters are well-aware that their sport is dangerous, and it’s a risk they’re willing to take. And reiterate that how brutal any sport appears does not necessarily correlate with actual health risks.