Senator Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes) thinks mixed martial arts is #1:
Rep. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is a bit more sensitive to the lure of bloodlust and money. He led a losing fight against the Legislative effort to legitimize our most violent sport last winter. Now he speaks truth to some of the biggest money power in South Dakota that's promoting that commercialized violence: Sanford Health. Terry Vandrovec reports in Monday's paper on the business relationship between South Dakota's largest health care business and MMA league Ultimate Fighting Championship:
The ever-expanding rural provider received approval from the UFC to work with its athletes and does so regularly in terms of training and treating injuries.
Brad Reeves, an orthopedic surgeon at Sanford, was at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Weidman stunned Anderson Silva to win the UFC middleweight title in July. Reeves consulted with the 29-year-old Weidman in the locker room before the bout and cheered him on just beyond ringside.
The Sanford-UFC relationship began with the local agent Martin bringing some of his 26 MMA clients there, but it has expanded [Terry Vandrovec, "MMA Fights for a Bright Future in South Dakota," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.09.09].
Rep. Rev. Hickey follows with these blessedly impolitic words:
Not everyone is thrilled about the relationship. State representative and Sioux Falls pastor Steve Hickey is the most vocal elected opponent of MMA in South Dakota. “Sanford follows the money, so this is it,” he said. “(Three-billion) dollar industry, fastest growing sport in the world” [Vandrovec, 2013.09.09].
Rep. Rev. Hickey blog-elaborates on Sanford's profit motive for promoting cage fighting:
My friends tell me this kind of thing is political suicide - to smack one of our largest employers in the state, and most generous, one that does a ton of good, etc.. Here's why…
Non-profit Sanford Health is all about multi-million dollar sports venues and high dollar corporate sponsorships. Frankly, in light of that it would be odd for Sanford not to be right in the middle of the mix in bringing high dollar cage fights to town. The possibility of bringing some huge UFC matches here to their venues, televised nationally and via pay-per-view is, how shall I say, exactly what the doctor ordered [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Sanford and MMA Cage Fighting: Money or Medicine?" Voices Carry, 2013.09.10].
Senator Lederman throws his votes and his money at a sport that glorifies violence and treats women as decoration. Representative Hickey's voting record on gals and guns is shaky, but I praise him for having the guts to call out one of the strongest financial forces in the state for putting profit above its mission of health and healing.