ESPN Wisconsin

Lawmakers pick fight with MMA


There is a new version of “Footloose” playing at your local multiplex.

That’s right.

Hollywood took what I simultaneously consider one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen -- and an iconic touchstone of 1980s cheesy excess and music video mass marketing -- and remade it, prompting one British publication to call the original a “cynical and manipulative exercise with little feel for the teen culture it purports to celebrate.” (I’d cite the source, but can’t find it).

What does this trip down memory / sequel lane have to do with sports?

Glad you asked.

Then and now, the plot of “Footloose” centers on government banning teenagers from listening to rock / pop music and expressing themselves through dancing. Unless the thing was set in Amish country, the premise is absurd. Trying to stop kids from experiencing pop music and dancing is like trying to hold back the tide with your fingers. Besides, governments have more important things to do than ban things that people like and are going to experience, anyway.

Or, do they?

Just as the coverage of “Footloose” hit a crescendo, I received an e-mail from my buddy, Kevin, who is a huge MMA (mixed-martial arts) enthusiast and another anonymous tipster who loves the sport.

It seems that some of our elected leaders in Wisconsin -- State Reps. Patricia Strachota and Mark Honadel and Sen. Glenn Grothman -- are pushing Assembly Bill 308, which would authorize any town in Wisconsin to enact and enforce an ordinance prohibiting any person from participating in, operating, maintaining, attending or promoting any form of MMA event. (UPDATE: Folks fighting the bill report that Rep. Honadel, an original sponsor, has removed his name from the bill.)

That’s right -- with unemployment rampant and a $4 billion deficit strangling the budgets for education, health care,  infrastructure and other vital functions of government these nozzles are taking time to worry about banning MMA events and preventing hardworking guys like Duke Roufus, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, Olympian Ben Askren and others from pursuing their sport in their home state.

Does this strike anyone else as absurd?

I’m not the biggest MMA fan in the area, but I’ve met Duke, his partner Scott Joffe at Roufusport and several of their fighters over the years. I am awestruck by the blood, sweat and tears they have invested to make Milwaukee a hotbed for one of the hottest sports in the country.

The idea that somebody is trying to restrict them from pursuing their dreams and growing their sport is as absurd as a mythical southern town banning rock and roll and dancing. But, it’s real.  

Here is some background from a story Paul Fladten wrote on the website

“AB-308 stems directly from a past set of ordinances out of the Town of Polk in Washington County. Ordinance 07-02 forced the cancelation of a Wisconsin Fighting Championship event at the Washington County Fairgrounds in November of 2009.

Less than a year later Polk enacted Ordinance 10-11 stating “No person shall operate, maintain, attend, participate in, promote or assist in operating, maintaining, attending participating in or promoting an ultimate or extreme event held within the Town of Polk.”

Now, Representative Strachota has jumped on the bandwagon of Polk Chairman Albert Schulties and hopes of spreading Schulties’ dislike for the sport of mixed martial arts across state lines. According to the 2010 census the Town of Polk’s population stands at 3,937.

Interestingly, all three sponsors of AB-308 were firm supporters of last year’s movement towards the regulation of mixed martial arts. Representative Strachota was upon the Assembly that unanimously voted in favor or regulation, Senator Grothman voted yes on the Senate floor and was on the committee that unanimously agreed to put the bill in front of the entire Senate, and Honadel was a co-sponsor of the bill seeking to create statewide safety standards.

The next step for AB-308 will be a review by the Assembly Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs.

Opposition to AB-308

Interested parties such as Roufusport owners Scott Joffe and Duke Roufus have begun to oppose the proposed bill. Those challenging AB-308 have stated:

  • AB-308 is a harsh slap in the face to the thousands of men, women and children who participate and compete in mixed martial arts in all 72 counties
  • AB-308 would have a significant, negative economic and job impact on the hundreds of martial arts dojos and MMA training facilities across Wisconsin.
  • The legislature should focus on real issues like jobs and growing our state’s economy – NOT denying athletes the right to compete in one of state’s most popular and safest sports.
  • It’s wrong to waste time and taxpayer money considering ill-advised laws that would move MMA back underground.

If you think that AB-308 is absurd and would like to contact the legislators involved, here is a link with more information. You also can follow the fight on Twitter.

News, notes, opinions and nonsense

Game 1 of the World Series is in the book and -- surprise -- people are squawking about the need for instant replay. I think baseball needs replay, but -- as we’ve seen in football -- there are still going to be screwups, bad angles and human error.

If the Wisconsin-Nebraska game was “the game of the year” in the Big Ten, what does that make Wisconsin-Michigan State? Does the fact that the basketball teams hate each other add fuel to the fire?

Dear NBA owners/players. We endured enough false starts during the NFL's labor drama last summer to last us for a couple years. Wake us when you reach a deal. Thank you.

Our SportsPage Video of the Day

Given the nominal fine he received on Wednesday, Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk will have nominally less money to pursue one of his favorite hobbies. What might that be? Check out this video from the player's association:

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... And so is Adam McCalvy of

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M.V.T. (Most Valuable Tweets)
Interesting comments from the world of Twitter

The Los Angeles Vikings has a nice ring to it. What do you think, Minneapolis?

who really watches Wendy Williams show like c'mon

Sometimes I hate the media more than people who say they hate the media.

Oh my God who was clapping at the end of La Russa's media session. #awful

McCarver is an eight-letter word for dumbass

I assume the infrared camera is being paid for with the money NewsCorp saved on Glenn Beck.

Well, slap me with a rotting codfish! The damn hotspot gizmo was actually useful. Sorta. Lets buy one for every stadium!

What the sports blogs are writing

Editor's note: We are always looking for interesting blog items about Wisconsin sports teams. If you have a favorite blog or come across an item we should spotlight, e-mail the address to SportsPage headquarters.

Cheesehead TV's Aaron Nagler says Mike McCarthy is getting his due

Deadspin weighs in on the Bryant Gumbel / David Stern battle

The Big Lead on ESPN's system for rating NBA players, especially those named LeBron

Cracked Sidewalks says MU hoops makes more money than some FBS football programs

Brew Crew Ball takes a look at Paul Molitor's post-season mastery

-- Touchdowns allowed by Wisconsin’s defense

17 -- Touchdowns scored by Badgers tailback Montee Ball

6 -- Consecutive games the Badgers have won by 30 or more points. That’s the longest streak to start a season since at least 1950.


PACKERS -- Next game: at Minnesota, 3:15 p.m. Sunday

BADGERS -- Next game: at Michigan State, 7 p.m. Saturday


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