UFC President Dana White told the media at last week’s UFC 235 presser that USADA is needed because this isn’t a sport where athletes put a ball through a hoop or over a fence. He is not the first to make this point, but in light of Super Bowl 53, it’s time to revisit this argument. The NFL – the most successful domestic sports league in the United States by a wide margin – named New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman the MVP. This season, however, Edelman was suspended four games for a PED violation. An opinion columnist in USA Today noted the NFL doesn’t seem to care about stamping about steroids or PED use, generally.
She’s right, but also wrong.The NFLPA also doesn’t care as they helped the NFL craft their anti-doping program. Nor do the broadcast networks nor the advertisers nor the fans. No one in the stakeholder position is concerned. Interestingly, however, the sport has an injury load equal to or surpassing that of mixed martial arts. At a bare minimum, the two are comparable. How can it be, then, that two sports with high and serious injury loads that affect brain health and quality of life have wildly divergent attitudes towards what to do about it? The answer is that MMA suffers from a media-driven moral panic and has overcorrected to fix the problem.
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