JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Rep. David Gregory’s “child safety and deregulation bill” was given final approval by the Missouri House on Thursday.
HB 1388 would put amateur kickboxing and mixed martial arts under state supervision. In amateur MMA certain moves would prohibited — elbow strikes and knee strikes to the head during the first five bouts — and minors would be unable to participate.
“This bill seeks to shift the regulation of mixed martial arts from the sanctioning body to the Office of Athletics. I repeat we are shifting the supervision over. We are not adding regulations,” said Gregory. “As a matter of fact, this bill seeks to eliminate three other regulations within the industry and only add one. We are going to be getting rid of regulations on announcers and managers and we are also going to be eliminating the requirement of cable companies to report their pay-per-view sales.
“Now the regulation being proposed is not allowing kids under the age of 18 to get their heads bashed in in a cage fight. They can still train, they can still fight in all mixed areas of martial arts, they just can’t ground and pound in a cage.”
The bill still got some pushback, with opponents arguing that this is an increase in regulations and takes away the rights of parents.
The bill would allow the State of Missouri to regulate a sport it is not currently allowed to regulate thus adding to regulations. This legislation goes against what Republicans say they stand for, according to the opposition.
“Why are we picking and choosing which sports that children can participate in?” asked Rep. Wanda Brown. “It is a parental decision.”
Opponents argued that putting age restrictions on these sports takes away to rights of parents to make decisions for their children and puts government unnecessarily in people’s lives. One Representative called the restrictions “only surface level protection.”
Supporters say the rules are meant to protect children. Everyone seems to have a consensus that the sport is extremely dangerous, according to Gregory. Doing a sport that causes a lot of injury at a young age, when growth plates are still developing and the brain is still developing, has a great potential for harm.
While headgear is used for training, the same is not true for actual fights. When competing in the cage, there is no protection.
In an exchange on the floor, Rep. Nick Schroer and Gregory talked through placing age restrictions on some things and not others.
“Let’s take cigarettes for example,” said Schroer. “Why has the government restricted certain things like cigarettes, that parents just can’t go out and consent, ‘Hey, I’m going to go buy my 12-year-old a pack of smokes.’ Why is that in place?”
“It is in place to protect kids,” answered Gregory.
“Why cigarettes? Why not playing legos? Why is it cigarettes, we picked in this governing body?” Schroer asked.
“Because cigarettes are harmful,” said Gregory.
“Just like taking a roundhouse kick to the head without protection,” responded Schroer.
Supporters also say that those involved in MMA like this bill. They want to protect the sport and they don’t want people getting hurt or dying. This bill would help protect the integrity of the sport, according to proponents.
“While I implore too much government regulation, I think this fits what most of our constituents would say is common sense,” said Rep. Derek Grier.
The legislation was sent to the Senate in a 112-29 vote.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.