A recent brawl involving 50 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans erupted outside Hurstville’s Ritz Hotel, where a fight between Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz was being broadcast live.
It’s worth asking the question: do these live sporting events encourage violence and, if so, is it wise to play them in alcohol fuelled environments? Or should we be looking at the bigger issue of violence amongst people consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and their tolerance to the substance?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism said on their website “alcohol may encourage aggression or violence by disrupting normal brain function. Alcohol weakens brain mechanisms that normally restrain impulsive behaviours, including inappropriate aggression.”
Brisbane Youth Service CEO, Annemaree Callander explained alcohol reduces inhibitions and, when consumed excessively, people can find themselves getting into trouble.
“It is a well-known fact that when people drink it reduces inhibitions, it can also act as a depressant so for people who are not in a good place emotionally or psychologically it can magnify these feelings, but then there are other people who can go out and consume alcohol in moderation and have a good time without getting into any trouble,” Ms Callander said.
Brisbane Taekwondo Centre spokesman, Tony Nooroa, part of Queensland’s largest martial arts, health and fitness centre believes that UFC is not to blame for the aggression.
“It all depends on the person. When it comes down to it everyone is an individual. You’ve got people who get violent for the sake of it without watching the UFC on TV. People tend to get heated with UFC and can take it personally while others can watch the sport and have a good time without getting into trouble,” Mr Nooroa said.
“Some people go out for the right reason, some the wrong reason. UFC is a form of controlled aggression. Alcohol is a factor but people are a factor as well, we need proper education. People just can’t go out and hit one another.”
“An inside joke we have is that the more you know [about fighting] the less likely you are ever going to use it.”
People tend to look up to the UFC fighters and some even aspire to be like them but Mr Nooroa warns there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes and people need to be dedicated if they are wanting to make a career out of fighting.
“They are professional fighters who have dedicated their whole lives to the sport, they train from the moment they wake up they have nutritionist, dieticians, chiropractors, doctors, it’s a full time professional sport,” Mr Nooroa said.
“It’s a big thing to want to get in the cage and have someone try and hurt you; it’s for people who love the adrenaline. There are still strict rules and regulations involved with the sport and people just don’t seem to understand that.”
Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies CEO, Rebecca MacBain believes that tighter regulation of alcohol at sporting events may be something to consider in an effort to reduce alcohol related violence.
“If people want to fight they will find a reason to fight, it’s about finding the balance with alcohol,” Ms MacBain said.
“Tighter regulation of alcohol at these events may be a solution and we need to ensure and monitor proper implementation of Responsible Service of Alcohol as well.”
For anyone struggling with alcohol abuse you should call your local drug and alcohol information centre and seek help.