Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"It Tolls for Thee"

By: Bernie McCoy.

The traditional barometer of a sport's popularity, television, provides all you need to know about the current health and future prognosis of the sport of Women's boxing. "Live", national coverage of the sport is, and has been for some time, practically nonexistent and the occasional ESPN female bout is all too often of the "one good fighter" variety. Showtime and HBO are, currently, the two major boxing networks. Showtime has not has a female boxing bout on the air in this century and HBO, the self proclaimed "leading boxing network," in it's over thirty years of existence, has never had a female fight on the air.

Yet on February 10, Showtime will feature a Mixed Martial Arts card from Southaven, MS and included in the scheduled televised fights will be a female bout featuring Gina Carano and Julie Kedzie. The "extreme fighting" sport also has, recently, had several hours of documentary coverage on MSNBC, along with an ongoing weekly series on Spike TV. Additionally, there is a talk, in the television industry, that NBC network is exploring the possibility of adding a program featuring Mixed Martial Arts to it's late fringe weekend time slot. In television programming circles, MMA is known as niche programming and it is, likewise, apparent that MMA is the current niche sport of choice, on TV, supplanting Women's boxing among other sports. And it's hard to argue with that particular programming choice.

And the reason is quite simple. In MMA the top fighters, male and female, constantly seek out and compete against the other top fighters in the sport. Contrast that with Women's boxing, where, in large part, many of the top boxers in the sport go out of their way to studiously avoid other top boxers in their weight class and opt instead for sure thing wins against overmatched opponents. The result is that many of the MMA bouts are both competitive and compelling while, in Women's boxing too many of the bouts are neither. Guess which sport makes for more compelling viewing? It's not the sport of Women's boxing.

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