Thursday, April 23, 2015

Male Ring Card Girls

I’m not sure when the custom of ring card girls began in combat sports, but the history of how it came to be is less interesting than the question of why the custom persists.  I concede that it may be difficult for intoxicated onlookers to retain exactly which round is about to transpire, but I imagine it’s even harder to retain such information when it’s delivered via scantily clad women with bouncing appendages.  So it’s fair to say the utilization of ring card girls hasn’t lingered for practical reasons.

Of course, men (and some women) enjoy any excuse to fix their eyes upon the female anatomy.  But I’m not convinced that’s all there is to the story.  After all, there are other sports (even male-dominated ones) which lack any equivalent.  Sure, there are some similarities between ring card girls and the cheerleaders that perform at football and basketball games, but these are distinctly different phenomena.  And ask yourself, why don’t we have ring card girls at the DMV?  Or at the grocery store?  Or at funerals?   Why aren’t they holding up signs listing the current wait time, or a ticket #, or the parting words of the deceased?  If it were truly as simple as “it’s fun to look at hot chicks”, wouldn’t we have found a way to expand their contributions to society?  Indeed, the exclusivity among combat sports is intriguing.

Ultimately, I don’t think the custom is much thought about one way or the other, neither by spectators, combatants, promoters, event planners, nor the participants themselves.  It’s just something that is done, and seemingly always has been.  At best, the practice is an archaic pastime that endures out of a sense of nostalgia, serving as a celebration of the human form, while providing a helpful reminder of the upcoming round as an added bonus.  At worst, it is a demeaning exercise without any utility whatsoever, fostering a strange mix of sex and violence while engaging some latent archetype of the male psyche unconsciously rooted in fighting over the female sex.

All of that is fine.  I have no problem gazing upon attractive women as they walk around in circles.  But what strikes me as totally unacceptable in 2015, a time when females comprise a sizable and growing portion of MMA athletes, a time when the 135 lb champion Ronda Rousey is widely regarded as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world (and one of the biggest stars in sports overall), is that there are no male ring card girls.  This, quite frankly, is an outrage.  It undermines the ideals of equality that we tirelessly strive toward as a society, it’s disrespectful to female fighters, and it should be highly offensive to you.  But most of all, it’s damaging to all the young boys out there who aspire to be the greatest ring card girls the world has ever seen.  Maybe you can sleep at night knowing we’ve trampled the dreams of our youth in blindly clinging to this custom, but I cannot.

I want to see scantily clad men in speedos and loin cloths parading around the octagon, doing their part to ensure everyone is aware of the upcoming round.  Rather than 3 designated ring card chairs filled with lady parts, I want to see 6 chairs next to the UFC cage occupied by male and female kibbles and bits.  And I want to applaud both sexes as they demonstrate how nimbly they walk while simultaneously holding up cards that show information more effectively communicated via the giant screens already present at each venue, and then deftly sit down ringside.  And I want to know that every MMA fan, whether male, female, straight, or gay, can behold a ring card girl within their attractive domain.

If we come together, we can turn this dream into a reality.  The world, and MMA, can be better.  We just have to choose to make it better.  Write to your representatives.  Write to your favorite fighters.  Write to the UFC.  And proudly spread the message that everyone should have the right to become a ring card girl, even if they have testicles.