Kenny Rice: “Questions & Answers (Or at Least Opinions): All Star Games, Lebron, UFC 176, MMA in the Olympics”


Q – Why is baseball’s All Star game by far the best of any other sport?

A – No sport showcases individuals more in the team concept than baseball. Every defensive player is on his own island, no zone coverage like basketball or football. A grounder into the hole, and all eyes are on the shortstop; a drive into the gap and all eyes are on the center fielder. The pitcher and batter go one-on-one exclusively, no picks, no screens, just them to see who gets the best.

The precepts of baseball, dictate their All Star game will resemble more of an actual game, rather than the fun-and-run pinball NBA gathering, where the scoreboard is always on the brink of registering ’tilt.’ And the NFL deal, while having a slight improvement this year, is impossible to duplicate the peak play. How hard is a running back going straight at a linebacker sharing the same feeling? A hitter can stretch a double into a triple, hello Mike Trout, just like in the ‘real’ game. Plus, there is something on the line in the mid-summer classic—World Series home field for the winning league.

Now this doesn’t guarantee an Astro would risk going hard into second to break up a double play just so an Athletic who is probably going to the playoffs, would have a chance, should they make the Series. However, again the isolation of baseball draws more focus on an individual on the field and pushes the competitive drive button much harder than any other sport, where making a key play matters to the man as much as the team.

Q – Is LeBron James returning to Cleveland worthy of all the national news–not just sports shows–attention it received?

A – No. The reply is too simple for a much more complex reasoning. Sports is always our cathartic release. The news section of the paper (even online) is headlined with deaths, destruction, threats of war, and political finger pointing. You don’t want to debate your buddy about the awful mess the border situation in this country has become. Why bother losing a friendship over the IRS scandal, when it appears few in Washington care? But when the paper or the nightly news can focus on the greatest basketball player in the game, who can argue that it becomes a debate that won’t need fence mending?

They think LeBron should’ve stayed with the Heat, the team that, after all, put him in the position to win those titles. Oh, you think it was time he went back to Cleveland to help his home area get rejuvenated and prove he doesn’t need all that Miami hype to get the job done? Okay, we can go back and forth, and no one gets bruised feelings. Want to pick a Democrat versus Republican topic? No way. There are friends who have spoken for months over issues of government spending, Obamacare, and Supreme Court decisions.

That’s too deep which is why network news, major papers (on line editions as well) always enjoy a quick dip into the shallow end of world issues, welcome the sports hero.

Q – Is the cancellation of UFC 176 a major setback for the UFC? Oh, and is it canceled or postponed?

A – Addressing the latter first. It is canceled, and this isn’t a semantical fight… That card won’t happen. People are getting refunds on their tickets and the fighters on the card, might not have the same opponent for another card. If it had been postponed, the card would’ve stayed intact and fans could use those tickets at the rescheduled date. But, it’s not a major setback; with Jose Aldo’s injury forcing the main event off the board, there wasn’t much choice but go another route.

To play in LA and on PPV, especially coming off the great card of Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey title fights, a belt had to be on the line. It is really interesting there aren’t more cancelations given the volume of events the UFC tackles annually. This almost weekly assault of PPV or network shows, almost seems insane to consider attempting. Yet, with only two exceptions, the UFC keeps adroitly moving along that high wire.

In a sport where injuries are the expected and where training and weight-cutting takes a huge toll on some, a back-up plan would almost always be a must. At least that would be the conventional thinking. Credit the UFC for never being conventional, therefore rising in popularity like no other sport in a decade, and credit their fighters for overcoming sometimes huge obstacles to make their fights. Well, almost always… Certainly a percentage every sport would take.

Q – Since this column began with All Star game comparisons. What about the closest thing for fighters, the Olympics. Will MMA ever be included?

A – No. At the most optimistic, close to impossible. Think the UFC would ever allow their stars to chance injuries that could lead to a rash of PPV cancelations because of an Olympic injury? The borderline guys they might sacrifice, er allow, but does everyone want that? Oh and everyone, there still aren’t enough countries that participate in MMA to qualify it as a sport that could be recognized by the International Olympic Committee. 75 countries on 4 continents would have to participate in MMA–not just some disciplines–but MMA fighting as we know it.

There are martial arts disciplines in the Olympics already: judo, taekwondo, boxing, and wrestling. One of them might have to go to make way for MMA.

And if you try and watch Olympic boxing it can drive you crazy with the judging, the lack of action compared to high level pros, and the politics involved. Plus, Olympic MMA could never be like “real” MMA. The fighters would have to wear headgear and pads, maybe even bigger gloves. Why the drastic change? The number of fights it would take to win a medal over a short period of time. Four to six fights in twenty days? That doesn’t sound rational.


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