Home > Uncategorized > Poll on MMA in New York State

Poll on MMA in New York State

A poll is being used to make the argument that New York voters overwhelmingly oppose the legalization of Mixed Martial Arts in New York State.

According to Marist, seven out of ten registerd New York State fighters disagree that Ultimate Fighting should be legalized. As an MMA fan, it seems like an absurd number. Curiously absurd, in fact, since it’s hardly a hot button issue for people other than a handful of State Legislators.

Marist asked:

“Ultimate fighting, which is legal in many states, takes place in steel cages and allows punching, kicking, and choke holds. Matches end with knockouts, submission by a fighter, or a referee or doctor’s orders. Supporters say legalizing it in New York would result in millions of dollars for the state. Do you agree or disagree with legalizing ultimate fighting in New York State?”

Well, there you go. It should have asked:

“Do you agree or disagree with legalizing ultimate fighting in New York State?”

You may be wondering what the difference is.

When I went to Siena, I interned at the Siena Research Institute and worked under a great, intelligent, and wonderful man by the name of Joe Caruso. Joe had also worked on Hillary Clinton’s US Senate campaign, and had taught me a lot about being a professional (giving me advice I unfortunately didn’t take to heart for many more years) and polling.

Part of my task was to assist in the dissemination of information and also the wording of the polls. I clearly remember a conversation in which we were trying to write an intro for one of the questions, and he put emphasis on the precarious nature of wording.

What Marist did with this poll is exactly the sort of thing Joe would say not to do. Marist got very wordy with its question, and in the opening salvo used the phrase “allows punching, kicking, and choking.” That right there automatically indicates a slant. You see, although the phrase “choke out” is used to describe what happens when a head submission is locked in, that’s not what actually happens. Chokes are illegal. However, to the average New Yorker who most likely doesn’t know better, you’d think it allows actual choking, i.e. throttling of the throat or wrapping one’s fingers violently around the neck. It’s an unsettling image; one that many victims of violent crimes are familiar with.

So they’ve already framed the question with what is, at best, a wildly misleading choice of words. At worst, it’s downright incorrect.

It’s also far too wordy. By the time you get to the question itself, the individual being polled has lost the context.

Another thing Joe taught me is the importance of context. We don’t know what was asked before and after the poll, which is key to understanding the response. With Governor Paterson’s approval rating being so low and so many items in the budget being wildly unpopular, it could have come in the midst of things like the soda tax and cuts to education. People are far more likely to say “no” to Ultimate Fighting in that order, whereas if it were asked independently in a separate poll, you’d get a different answer.

So, should this poll be given weight? Absolutely not. Here’s hoping WRGB and other news outlets covering this tonight have somebody on there that knows something about polls.

Kevin Marshall is an local playwright, writer, actor, blogger, and Mixed Martial Arts enthusiast. His new blog, “Mixed Marshall Arts,” will be launched in the upcoming months.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    That is an absurd number considering the popularity of the sport. Interesting stuff.

  2. February 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Aside from the slightly leading question, I think most people WOULD be against MMA. Many people are simply ignorant of this sport, just as outsiders are generally ignorant about judo, boxing or martial arts in general.

    • February 3, 2010 at 9:49 am

      I agree to an extent, but I still don’t think that many people in this state are actively opposed to its legalization. 70%? That’s outrageous.

      And not out of the norm for Marist, either. They’ve come up with some pretty absurd results in the past.

  3. February 19, 2010 at 2:44 am

    It’s difficult, for me, to watch MMA, especially since one of the few times I watched it, I watched someone literally break someone’s arm in a hold to the extent that the bone broke through the skin. Then again, I watched one of my fellow lineman in high school break their leg in practice, ending up in a wheel-chair for half a year.

    People who compete in MMA know the risks, just like people who play hockey or football or any other sport. While I could see there being some reasonable regulations to ensure a basic level of safety, I can’t see a reason to ban it.

    • February 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for the feedback. It’s always interesting to hear an outsider’s viewpoint (re: not an MMA fan) and to have it be rational.

      Like you said, there’s risks in every sport. Even at the Olympics, as we found out this year. The fact that MMA gets pigeon-holed as more dangerous when it’s anything but, and also goes a bit further than most other sports to make sure that’s not the case, is particularly frustrating.

  4. February 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    This isnt aceptable.The commentators should be way more professional, especially in a nationally televised event like the olympics

  5. February 25, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Amongst all the rubbish you can now and again find some real pearls, good post.

  6. May 31, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Lyoto Machida1 John Makdessi and Daron Cruickshank showed off
    their Taekwondo for 3 rounds with Makdessi earning
    the unanimous decision. Mauricio” Shogun” Rua via third-round TKO 6 Luiz Cane def.

    Couple body shots and headbutts from Medina. He is an
    exciting title fight and number-one-contender bout on
    the main card to replace the Taylor vs Njokuani bout. The Manchester fighter
    has battled his way through the mma gloves with one shot. Both men left it all in
    the Octagon. Since then Cain has reclaimed his title and Antonio upset the
    heavily favoured Alistair Overreem.

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