City council to ponder mixed martial arts at Finley Gym
Mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter asks to use Finley Gym
The Socorro City Council meeting of August 3rd heard testimony from Joel Partridge, a Socorro based mixed martial arts trainer and aspiring promoter, asking for permission to use Socorro's Finley gym for a mixed martial arts fight card in September. Council members voiced concerns about past problems with violence and gang-related activities around the periphery of such events, but Partridge assured them that mixed martial arts has moved away from such problems and is now a professional sport with oversight from the New Mexico State Athletics Commission.
Mr. Partridge made his case eloquently and sincerely, emphasizing that mixed martial arts was once marketed as a "blood sport" or a "human chicken fight", but has, in his estimation, moved into the mainstream of modern culture, with events widely televised, as well as being highly regulated with safety and sportsmanship now at the forefront. Partridge noted that the New Mexico State Athletics Commission requires a ring-side EMT, a ring-side physician, as well as various insurances for both spectators and participants.
Socorro's council members generally seemed receptive to Mr. Partridge's testimony. Some council members hinted that while they might consider supporting a mixed martial arts event in Socorro, they nevertheless had some reservations about using Finley gym as the venue, given that it's widely used by children in our community. Council member Monette voiced strong reservations regarding questions of liability, in the event that problems arise, and said he was afraid that the city was "moving backwards" and in danger of repeating past mistakes. Mayor Bhasker recalled many problems related to such events in past years, in particular with fights spilling over from the ring into the community, with various gang-related activities ensuing. However, despite such reservations several council members confessed that they enjoy watching mixed martial arts on television; those included council members Hicks, Monette, Pargas, and Olguin.
In the end, Mayor Bhasker moved that the council vote to take Mr. Partridge's proposal into consideration, investigate further, and to explore the issue further at the next council meeting. This vote passed 8 to 1, with Monette as the only "no" vote.
Socorro News' position
Socorro News is deeply concerned about the impact of such events on children. Studies have shown that exposure to violence, even highly-regulated "sporting" violence such as boxing and martial arts, can make children measurably more aggressive and violence-prone. Of course, this is not to say that all kids who are exposed to these things will somehow become serial killers. The effects are much more subtle than that; however, they still occur and it can in fact have an impact on society, with a slow creeping progression towards a more violent (and violence-accepting) culture. Thus, we are inclined to oppose the sport on those grounds.
However, Mr. Partridge and even some council members, e.g. Ernest Pargas in particular, argued eloquently that the sport has many good qualities, teaching its proponents about competition, sportsmanship, dedication, training, and so forth. Pargas in particular felt that it is a good alternative for kids to stay away from drugs, one of the causes close to Pargas' heart. These points were all made sincerely and passionately, and we are hard pressed to dismiss them out of hand. Thus, we might suggest a middle ground in which both mixed martial arts proponents and opponents can find a compromise. Our suggestion is to have an age limit on attendees, say 18 years old and up perhaps, and then allow the fights to proceed. Socorro News is not taking a position on Finley Gym as the venue; we are more concerned with violence and its impact on kids than we are with any particular venue.
In other council business
In other council business, the city heard updates on the landfill permitting process, a request for a drop-off traffic path for the Cottonwood Valley Charter School, and a request by Jaramillo plumbing to annex some city-owned property to alleviate problems that their facility has with large delivery trucks being unable to exit their property without backing out into traffic. None of these issues was decided, so further discussions and deliberations will be coming in future council meetings. The next city council meeting will be held Monday, August 17th, at city hall.