I’m sure if you are reading this then you have heard that lawmakers in Tennessee want to pull the plug on the Tennessee Athletic Commission on July 1st. If new legislation is not introduced by February 12, 2015 then June 30th will be the last day the Commission is in place and boxing and MMA shows will be legal in the state beginning July 1.
What can you do to help keep MMA and boxing events legal? There are several things.
Contact your local elected state Senator and Representative. A bill needs to be introduced and must pass in both houses for the Commission to stay in place. Contacting the Governor’s office will do no good. They have been very supportive but they cannot enact or sponsor new legislation. That comes from the House and State Senate.
Find your local representative and Senator here. Call them and email them. When you talk to them tell them you want to know your representative’s position and explain what is going on. Explain how the local economy will be affected and bars and restaurants will miss out on millions of dollars from fans who come to see the UFC. Talk to them about ideas to increase revenue for the Commission such as putting pro wrestling under the jurisdiction of the Athletic Commision or licenses for amateur fighters. Or just read this post from last year to see what some other states are doing. Be polite but firm. They may tell you your local representative is out of the office. Ask them to call you back. They work for you so make them accountable. Ask them to sponsor new legislation to keep the Commission in place.
Another main thing is to draw awareness to what’s going on. When you call your local representatives there is a 95% chance you will get an aid or member of their staff. You won’t get to talk to them right away. Their staff will be friendly and courteous but you need to educate yourself as to what you are talking about and have ideas as to how the Commission can be viable and why it is necessary. If they mention that the Commission is not able to sustain itself, you need to be able to tell them that the fights will go on unregulated in bars where promoters won’t have to carry insurance. Fighters could be carrying HIV or hepatitis into the cage with them without bloodwork being done. The sport going on without checks and balances is very dangerous.
Also, Tennessee will be the first state to regress from having an Athletic Commission to having none. It’s possible that one day there could be something new proposed by lawmakers and we could get a new sanctioning body but God knows how long it would take to get set up. With the way the government works it could be several years.
Another idea is raise awareness. On Saturday Sherdog and MMAMania picked up the story but they are preaching to the choir. This issue needs to be covered locally. Contact your local news stations and make them aware. Tell them what is going on or send them a link to the story. Most stations have websites with ways to contact them. Most reporters have Twitter accounts too. Reporters are always looking for a good story. And what better story than politicians who are taking something away from their constituents?
These reporters can put pressure on the politicians to talk about their position on the record on camera. The reporters or media members can also talk about what’s going on on the air (television or radio) to increase awareness. Right now the hardcore MMA fans know what’s a stake. Once it gets on the news or sportstalk stations boxing fans or casual UFC might hear about it and get ticked off too.
Here are some Contact pages with email addresses and phone numbers to news stations in Tennessee.
I have reached out to numerous people in the media in Middle Tennessee recently and a few responded. MMA is a niche sport and it’s fanbase isn’t a broad as football or basketball. But if enough people tweet these people and blow up their Twitter feed they will see that losing MMA in the state is a big deal. Eventually they will have to pay attention to it.
Here are the Twitter handles for news people and media members in Tennessee. Tweet them and respectfully tell them you want MMA and boxing in Tennessee. In 140 characters or less tell them what is going on.
Here are the Twitter handles for Nashville newspeople.
Dave Foster @DaveFoster17
102.5 The Game
Willy Daunic @WillyD1025
Here are the Twitter handles for East Tennessee newspeople.
Knoxville News Sentinel
Jack McElroy @JackatNews
Jimmy Hyams @JimmyHyams
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Jay Greeson @jgreesontfp
Also hit up the UFC. The guys at Zuffa know what’s going and they can help us with our cause by simply coming to town.
Those two guys make the big decisions for the UFC. Don’t bother hitting up Joe Silva. Just because he’s the matchmaker doesn’t mean he decides where to take the cards. Hitting up Rampage might not be a bad idea but he doesn’t use Twitter very often. I was told that he wanted to fight in Memphis last year but had to settle for Southaven, Mississippi when he fought King Mo. His Twitter account is @Rampage4real.
Go after Scott Coker too. Bellator has never been to Nashville and Coker produced one of his biggest shows ever when he brought Henderson vs Shields to the Music City live in primetime on CBS a few years ago. His Twitter account is @ScottCoker.
We have just over two weeks until the deadline to sponsor new legislation passes. After February 12th MMA is dead in the water and the Commission will be officially put out to pasture on July 1st. Let your voice be heard. Just remember, be kind and respectful. Everyone has a job they are trying to do and if you belligerent you will get tuned out. Educate yourself then reach out and make a difference.