By Josh Stein on May 19, 2009
Since the inception of WAMMA, there have been those who, at least publicly, have been incredibly supportive of the organization. None of those is more significant that MMA legend and innovator Pat Miletich, who has explained, at length, the importance of an honest rankings system.
Sam Caplan, a well respect writer on the sport, has similarly supported WAMMA and acted as the organizer for their rankings board before moving into a more significant capacity as COO.
The departure of Caplan and Miletich is not amicable (as was expressed in the press release in which both are quoted as having issues with the WAMMA board of directors). While it’s not clear what these disputes are over, there will certainly be theories which come out shortly (personally, I already have a few).
There has been some frustration with the failure of WAMMA to have little public impact outside of handing out belts and publishing their monthly rankings. It must be worth acknowledging that, during a time when the sport is building respect in the mainstream, but failing to move into some states that it, perhaps, should be, that there is a certain degree of failure on the part of an organization like WAMMA to aid in the assist.
It seems clear, at least to me (and this is, of course, where I will make a point of differentiating between speculation and public statements, as this is speculation), that the departure of Miletich and Caplan has a great deal to do with the failure of WAMMA to act as an effective advocacy group on behalf of the sport.
Of course, the internal goals and workings of WAMMA were something that many heard updates on periodically, but it seems that with the departure of Miletich (the most effective and credible spokesperson for the organization) and Caplan (one of the individuals considered most qualified to take the position), it seems good that those comments were off the record, as it’s hard to believe that an organization could possibly be accomplishing anything substantial covertly as it suffers from this kind of internal dissent.
There have been many internal goals within WAMMA, which include (but are not limited to) creating their proposed “one belt, one king” system, building substantial pension opportunities for fighters and progressing with respect to the legalization of the sport in major markets (at this point, New York seems the most potent example, but I’ll get to that momentarily). If I look back at the recent months, WAMMA has not managed to so much as start a debate on those first two issues, much less make any progress injecting the ideas into the minds of the fans.
As far as legalization of the sport goes, I think that New York, the ultimate large market paradigm of the uphill battle the sport has been fighting, and perhaps the last great stronghold of opposition in the United States, has been perfect opportunity for an organization like WAMMA to make a difference. The UFC, seen as anti-union by those who oppose the Fertittas, is easily opposed because of the controversy of its figurehead, Dana White, but the potential for WAMMA to offer another voice in the conversation was certainly present. In that respect, WAMMA has failed.
NOTE: As someone who supported WAMMA when I thought that there was a genuine sense of consciousness, a sense of awareness of the needs of the sport, within the organization, I have to say that I’ve been painfully disillusioned. The release of the few individuals with a legitimate understanding of the way that the sport operates is a nail in the coffin, but not exactly a blindside.
When an organization fails to make even the slightest impact on the news of a sport, and then it is revealed that two of the leaders within the organization have stepped down and have no problem acknowledging that the split is not amicable, there needs to be a serious evaluation of the competence and capacity of the organization as a whole. As much as I liked the initial plan of WAMMA, as much as I was willing, initially, to present support based on what they were trying to do and not what had actually been accomplished, I can only shake my head.
I wish all the best to Caplan and to Miletich. Both are great representatives of the sport and will have an impact on the industry wherever they go.
Filed Under: MMA
About the Author: Joshua Stein is a writer and editor for MMA Opinion. He has worked as a photographer and journalist and has a number of print journalism credits. He also works as a moderator for MMAForum.com and a grappling columnist (covering judo, collegiate wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and submission grappling) for profighting-fans.com.