New BC Combat Sports Regulations –Reducing Injuries or Reducing Talents?


New BC Combat Sports Regulations –Reducing Injuries or Reducing Talents?

 Giridhar Krishnan (sports)

BC now joins with Alberta to be one of the first provinces to regulate combat sports and mixed martial arts. The legislation, Bill S-209, amends the Criminal Code to allow each individual province to grant permission for a “contest between amateur athletes in a combative sport with fists, hands or feet.” “The federal government told the provinces “that it was up to us to make a determination as to which of the amateur combat sports would be legal and how we wanted to deal with those,” BC Athletic Commissioner Dave Maedel said in an interview with The Vancouver Sun.


BC will now regulate some mixed martial arts like kick boxing, pankration and Muay Thai, while others; wushu, karate, kung fu, grappling, jiu jitsu events, boxing, wrestling, tae kwon do and judo; can take place without regulations and do not need permission from the Athletic Commissioner.


Initially it seems a really healthy sign that fewer injuries will occur with the new regulations, and fighters can feel a sense of safety. It can be seen that this applies for only amateur mixed martial arts. It is expected that amateur fighters can be facing a lot of issues like lack of safety gear and also lack of professional training. It seems a trend that by restricting some of the moves which are more likely to cause serious damage to the fighters, these amateur fighters can be saved from the bad bruises of the big fists.


The other side of the story seems to pose a bit of worry. As some amateur fighters who had fought earlier are really comfortable with the old rules, regulating the sport also regulates their moves. Some fighters may look to move out of Western Canada as the regulations right now are in Alberta and British Columbia alone. This can lead to loss of some of the talented amateur fighters as they move.


The other concern is that the fighters would start their careers with these amateur fights with a set of regulations. Athletes  would then become fighters who get into the professional level and there may feel handicapped with a new set of rules with unrestricted moves. This could mean amateur champions can be made to look like paupers at the professional level because they have to relearn how to fight with different regulations.


Looking at the whole picture there is nothing to be blamed as the provincial government has done this in concern with the safety of their participants, as these sports look highly likely to cause injury. On the other hand the worry of talents leaving the province and transition to professional level is justified too.


To tackle this does not seem to be an easy task. A research into the past of number of injuries to amateur fighters could give a better insight and a possible head start. On one hand, it is a positive feeling that amateur fighters are safer and less likely to get injured, but on the other hand, hopefully it does not become negative with the worries of transitions and possibility of talents leaving the province. An interesting future waits for combat sports in British Columbia, and for now we can only hope it is for the better.


Image Caption: Regulating Combat Sports or Regulating Talents?

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