The Arrogance of Sports Journalists

So, recently the UFC made a new executive hire. Gary Cook Chief Executive of the Manchester City Football Club was hired as the Executive Vice President and Managing Director for the European, Middle East and African markets

Cook had a somewhat colourful term in charge of Man City, and he had a name in the football world. So, today Patrick Collins of the [i]Daily Mail[/i] offered his opinion on Cook being hired by the UFC.

Patrick Collins was named Sports Writer of the Year in 2008 (at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards). So, bare in mind this gentleman is an award winning sports writer. He seems, like so many older sports journalists, to have this idea that something is only a sport if people like him say it is. Collins is far from unique in this regard. There seems to be a certain class of older sports journalist whose reaction when presented with MMA (a sport which commits the cardinal sin of being new) is to dismiss it out of hand. Shit, people are entitled to dislike MMA. It's the swaggering arrogance of these characters, who in a predictable and lazy fashion refuse to accept that MMA is a sport at all, that bothers me.

These guys (and Collins also is guilty of this) most of the time take no issue with the idea of boxing. They will sometimes be trotted out to write a piece on boxing. Boxing of course isn't their beat. They are sports journalists though and, goddamn, they know boxing (well, they watch Mayweather fights and Pacman fights and, hell, if they are British they might watch Amir Khan and David Haye sometimes too) so they are more that qualified to pontificate in print on the merits of big boxing stories. Most of the time the pieces they churn out on boxing will state the obvious and be void of any real insight. Collins, for instance, a few months back did a column decrying the idea the Chisora/Haye fight. However in those boxing pieces they never call in to doubt the idea that boxing is a sport.

Sigh, it's just all so intellectually lazy.

Anyway Collins' recent mention on the UFC, which promoted this rambling forum post, is below. It was the third item dealt with in his most recent column...

[i]"...[b]Garry back with the ultimate in daftness[/b]

Garry Cook was God’s gift to sports columnists. On slow weeks, we looked to the Manchester City chief executive for a cheery quip, a piece of unwitting daftness which cried out for preservation.

You will recall his remark on his chairman, the noted human rights abuser Thaksin Shinawatra: ‘Is he a good guy to play golf with?’ Then there was his masterpiece of middle-management speak: ‘I want to central-entity the top 10 teams to create a global empire.’

Often he would recall his golden days as a glorified sneaker salesman: ‘At Nike, you don’t sit around saying “Can we?” You say “We will”… I call it the cultural cascade.’

If David Brent had never existed, then Garry would have invented him. He left City in Brentian fashion, after an unfortunate incident involving an email.

But he hasn’t gone away. In fact, the great man has just been named as executive vice-president and managing director of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the ongoing street brawl posing as a sport.

Garry says he is ‘delighted’. He calls it ‘an honour’ to be working in such a ‘dynamic and exciting industry’.

Soon, I suspect, he will be introducing organised violence to the mysteries of the cultural cascade. For Garry Cook is back. Living proof that, even in UFC, you can’t keep a good man down. Just you wait: ultimate fighting won’t know what’s hit it..."[/i]

A strange thing. These days, most of the time guys' whose main beat is boxing (in a lot of cases) either ignore MMA or accept it. They might writer a column every once in a while about why boxing is better than MMA. That's just their opinion though. For the most part they have stopped calling into question the idea that MMA is a sport. It's the guys who cover sports in a more general way that come out with stupid comments like, "the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the ongoing street brawl posing as a sport..."

The guy obviously has an axe to grind with Gary Cook.  Forget about what he said in regards to the UFC and look at the way he categorized the guys career at Nike, calling him a 'glorified sneaker salesman' and mocking their corporate culture.  He was bound and determined to shit all over anything Cook was associated with.

It goes beyond just his opinion on Gary Cook. Last year, in a melodramatic column about David Haye's effect on boxing, Collins wrote...

"...The more barbaric of its followers will presumably turn to the witless obscenity known as 'cage fighting'..."