Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sports as protected expression?

For all my writing on fan speech, this is a place I never thought to go: Last week, UFC and several UFC fighters have challenged New York's ban on MMA exhibitions and profiting from those exhibitions on, among other things, First Amendment grounds. The argument is that the state is targeting the message of MMA through a commercial ban, even though the activities themselves are lawful in a gym. The plaintiffs are represented by Barry Friedman, a great con law scholar at NYU (and, I am guessing, an MMA fan).

Friedman has tried to argue that MMA is mixed martial arts, so is an activity that is more uniquely performative than other sports (more akin to dancing than basketball), so it does not necessarily follow that all sports are expressive. Or maybe all sports are expressive, with whatever legal issues that may create.

As I said, I had never thought to go here. But if sport is expressive, then I believe my arguments that watching and cheering for sports gains added strength.