Having just read Josh Gross' column on why Kimbo is bad for the MMA (about the 50th or so different writer touting the same tired story), I have to deviate from the usual topic to point out the obvious; racism is alive and well in sports.
Look, I'm no liberal bleeding heart. I don't believe in affirmative action. I get tired of Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson crying wolf every time a black man draws the short straw. But this particular story screams it. And here's why:
The argument being made about Slice is that he is a street "thug". That he hasn't earned his shot in the limelight the way other fighters have, that he's just being given the opportunity because he draws an audience.
I don't watch MMA, or UFA for that matter. For all I know, everything Josh states may well be accurate. But we're talking ultimate fighting here. Why is Kimbo being called out for what essentially they all are? Brawlers with martial arts training who get paid to beat up other people. If we look up the definition of "thug", wouldn't you say they all fit the description?
The argument continues that Slice isn't as talented as many of the veterans who have "put in their time" as it were. That he is a walking marketing campaign with limited talent.
I don't know about you, but I know I've NEVER seen a boxing match that was set up to put the champion against the best ticket/pay-per-view draw rather than, say, the top contender. Never happens. (Warning: sarcasm dripping)
In order to grow your product, you have to be able to market it. Instead of sounding like a bunch of jealous hens, these MMA fighters and followers ought to be thankful for Kimbo. He's bringing new fans to the sport, and if they like what they see, they'll continue to follow it. Which means they'll know about the better/more established fighters soon enough.
The question then becomes, why the controversy? Well, look at who is doing the writing and which fighters are doing the complaining. Compare the reception Brock Lesnar received for UFA against what Kimbo is getting now.
Suck it up fellas. A black man with charisma is doing what you couldn't for your sport; he's selling it.