Why do people talk about the long-term dangers of hockey fights but not MMA, where punches to the head are much more frequent?

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Why do people talk about the long-term dangers of hockey fights but not MMA, where punches to the head are much more frequent?

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Depends on the people youre listening too. Ive heard plenty of people talk about the dangers of mma.

Well, there’s the obvious one: everyone knows that MMA isn’t going to be good for your head.

The discussion around other sports and CTEs is mainly that it’s more prevalent than previously thought in sports with protective gear. Any idiot knows being punched in the head is bad. But it’s less obvious that it’s still a risk with other sports. Plus, it’s an issue with kids playing those sports. Kids in martial arts aren’t actually trying to knock anyone out.

It’s very much an issue, and people are very much talking about it. It’s probably a bias in that hockey has been around for generations and is both popular enough and well enough established that the effects are more public. MMA is a young enough sport and niche enough that there just isn’t that volume of people talking about it. If you change MMA to Boxing which is more comparable to hockey in terms of duration of popularity you absolutely have an established network of people talking about the dangers of long-term brain trauma.

Hockey enforcers used to fight a lot more than professional fighters.

A boxer or MMA fighter will go a few times a year, hockey players play 82 games a year. Fewer incidents and long recovery times for fighters.

That’s not to say it doesn’t get discussed in combat sport circles, but there’s a lot of a “yeah we know” feeling around the sport where the goal is quite literally to concuss the other person.

Fighters that get KOed repeatedly do get a lot of pressure to retire before they suffer more serious consequences.

People who fight in MMA are professional fighters. They’ve trained to be fighters. That means they’ve been trained to know which moves are REALLY dangerous and to avoid landing blows in particular areas that can do severe damage. Likewise, since they expect to be attacked by opponents they’ve been trained in how to anticipate blows and move to lessen their effects or try to land in safer positions when knocked down.

That isn’t true for all hockey players. They *might* be trained fighters, but they’re on the ice because they’re good at playing hockey and being a martial artist isn’t required for that. So when they start fighting, they’re not as cognizant of which kinds of punches are dangerous and aren’t as trained to take those kinds of punches.

Also consider that in MMA, the fight is the event, so if a fighter believes something’s gone wrong and they’re hurt worse than they should be they can signal to end the fight immediately in ways the opponent can recognize and knows to respect. Hockey fights are not as structured, so if someone gets hit too hard they might try to make a signal but the other person might not understand it and keep going. This is exacerbated because the more often getting beaten up is part of your job, the better you are at knowing the difference between “that hurts” and “wait I just took an injury, this is wrong”.

So in either case severe injuries can happen, but intuitively we expect MMA fighters to have fewer random instances of those kinds of things.