Monday, October 13, 2008
Michael Wilbon cause quite a stir in the MMA community last week when he decided to say that the CBS Elite XC fight between Kimbo Slice and Seth Petruzelli was fixed and even compared the Sport of MMA to professional wrestling. Well David Scott, of Scott's Shots, followed up with Wilbon via email and actually got a response back from the PTI co-host.
After Wilbon had explained his feeling on the Sport and about the fight itself, in the first email, there was a second exchange between the two. Here's what went down...
SHOTS REPLY:Okay....so did you make it all the way through that? Good. First of all, it's really interesting that Wilbon is taking the time to talk to websites/blogs, like Scott's Shots, now. It shows a better understanding of the new medium on his part and it's better for everyone interested in a story like this. Second, he's overall point is right. I don't think it was fixed myself, but there's no way the Sport shouldn't be without scrutiny. Just like this site, or any other blog, Wilbon is simply giving an opinion in the end. I understand the passion of MMA fans, but just because someone disagrees with you, doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong. Remember....anything is possible.
Thanks Mike. Appreciate the response.
I’m far from an MMA expert - or even a fan - but the criticism I’m reading of your comments seems to stem from A) you’re not well-informed about the sport (for instance, the difference between EliteXC and UFC) and B) you’re dismissing the fact that 4.3 million watched the fight - a very respectable number and far better then hockey or soccer for instance. (That number is what MLB is averaging on TBS for the first round of playoffs, in fact).
I guess I’m asking if you would be so dismissive and condescending to the NHL? Or MLS? Or Arena Football?
Can you see where MMA fans and supporters would be a bit outraged and perturbed? Can you also comment on whether or not you would use such harsh terms with a “mainstream” sport?
Have you received a lot of correspondence re: this subject? Seems like the MMA fans are pretty protective of their sport. . .
Thanks again for your time.
Wilbon Response #2
Hi David…Believe me, I expected the criticism. But while I appear on TV 5 days a week I’m a columnist. Tough stances are what we do. I don’t need to be well versed in MMA to watch and listen and make an observation. And, I don’t care if 20 million people watch. Millions watch professional wrestling but that doesn’t mean we don’t question the outcome. The number of people watching makes it popular and well received, but doesn’t mean the event is above question. I’m not paid by MMA. I don’t care how many people watch. Why is my making the same observation about boxing, which I do know tons about and have covered and criticized, ignored in this discussion? And ANYBODY who watches “PTI” knows I have ripped (as well as praised) every single sport out there, from the NFL to MLS to NBA to the NHL to Arena Football, etc. I’ve ripped apart folks whose events get a whole lot more than 4.3 million people watching. So while there are plenty of valid criticisms of my opinions, pulling punches on various sports ain’t one of them. Whoever makes that criticism either isn’t familiar with my work or has an agenda. It’s bull*&^@ and can be completely refuted by simply pulling five tapes of “PTI” (or five of my columns) from the last 7 years. Anyway, in terms of the amount of criticism that might be coming my way, that seems to be something that people who do TV and critique TV really care about. I could care less. I’ve written a column for 18 years. I’m sure you know this ain’t the first reaction to something I’ve written. It’s their right and I encourage the give and take. But if angry readers were going to move a columnist off his mark he and his work wouldn’t be worth a damn. So if the MMA folks are upset they’ll let me know. It won’t be the first dust-up, nor the last. I think it’s a fascinating study, though, the way people apparently think now that their criticism can back people down who criticize something they love. Sorry. Not here. I don’t mind in the least the give and take with fans of whatever sport it is voicing their opinion…Conversation has to be a two-way street… In Atlanta people get upset because I call Atlanta the worst sports city in America. They write. Some scream. A very few agree. I build my argument, make my case and people accept or reject it…But it’s not like I’m going to run and hide because people send some angry e-mail…Are people in media that gutless now. If people don’t think 28 years of covering sports gives me some knowledge and insight they’ll stop watching/listening/reading. I guess we’ll see what happens over the next few days when I return to the show Monday…But thanks for engaging in the discussion. Sorry to ramble. Don’t hesitate to correspond in any case…Take care. MW
Wilbon Expands on MMA/Kimbo Slice Comments (Scott's Shots)
ESPN's Michael Wilbon Says Kimbo Slice- Seth Petruzelli Fight Was Fixed (Fanhouse)