I've never been terribly interested in sports, and I'm slightly embarrassed to say that 85 percent of all football/basketball/baseball watching in my life has been part of an effort to hang out with, or otherwise fit in with, a guy that I wanted to impress at the time. (Note to any of my guy friends who may be reading this: 15 percent of the time there was really nothing better to do, so no assumptions are warranted about what group you were in.;) I think team sports seemed too inaccessible, too impersonal for my taste. That, plus I've been told that I have the attention span of a gnat.
All of this has changed, as I've found the sport for me. It's exciting, unpredictable, fast moving, and it's something I can see myself doing: Ultimate Fighting Championship! Yes, that's right. I'm developing a taste for mixed marshal arts.
Allow me to explain. Many other sports, even boxing, have a strict set of rules, and a very limited range of actions that each athlete is allowed to take to advance his or her position. In football, players can't let the ball drop, in basketball, you have to dribble, and in boxing, you must use gloves and can only punch your opponent in certain ways. In other words, many sports reward a very specific set of skills, rather than matching a variety of strengths and skills against each other and thus allowing people to improvise around their advantages and limitations. As somebody who has always had to leverage my strengths and abilities against my weaknesses and disabilities, I respect the MMA concept.
In addition, I was fortunate enough to have a brother and sister who never thought of me as different as we were growing up. We fought, even physically, relentlessly. They felt free to throw punches, pull hair, and push me around, and I felt free to do the same, with some clever wheelchair maneuvers to boot (i.e. pinning my brother against the wall, or chasing them around the yard at full speed). Don't get me wrong, nobody ever really got hurt, and we're great friends now. It was typical kid stuff.
So that got me thinking. They have wheelchair basketball leagues, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair racing--why not wheelchair UFC? I'm not certain that I would do it, or even that it is a good idea, but it is intriguing. A sport that allows any method of fighting to be used, has rules to protect the fighters, and rewards leveraging your strengths against your weaknesses, would be perfect for wheelchair users.
For instance, without risking putting all of my cards out there on the table, my boxing game is weak. I don't have a very strong punch. That being said, my legs are pretty strong if I'm in the right position. This means that in a UFC bout, I would be best on the ground, engaging in a combination of dirty boxing and jujitsu. From the ground, I could throw a combination of strategic punches and kicks. With a little training, I might even be able to perfect a couple of submissions, and then watch out! While you're busy trying to box, I'll have you in a rear naked choke in no time.
I heard that Randy Couture recently left the league. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World re-took the championship belt in a higher weight class at the age of 44! This guy is known for strategy and leveraging strengths. Perhaps he would be interested in exploring this new idea with me. Randy, if you read this, shoot me an email. Let's talk!