Losing is not humiliating. Losing is part of the human experiences that sport provides. It should teach, it should humble, it should show provide contrast to the enjoyment of the wins. What is self-humiliating is to forfeit those human experiences that a loss provides and instead become a bad loser that resorts to violence.
Sadly, we saw two instances of that this weekend. In one of them, some English football fans, frustrated with England’s loss to Italy in Association Football’s Euro 2020 Final, perpetrated violent acts after the stadium: theft and physical assault against other spectators, and racist abuse against players of the team they supported. Unacceptable and reprehensible.
We already know that hooliganism is sadly still a part of football. What is even worse and not justified is that the sportsperson that has the center stage becomes the person that incites violence and hatred.
Last Saturday, Conor McGregor (IRL), a former UFC Lightweight World Champion that has broken Pay Per View records, lost for the second time in a row against Dustin Poirier (USA). This is his fourth loss in seven fights.
After the fight, Conor started a ridiculous tirade of insults against his opponent and even his wife, including death threats. This has gone even worse. Three days later he Tweeted disjointed threatening messages -granted, utilizing words Poirier had spat before the fight- that even included Poirier’s child.
This should not be accepted. Freedom of speech is important but when you become a public figure in sport you have the responsibility to understand the ripples of your words. When you have a worldwide following every statement you make sets an example.
Conor needs professional help. There has to be something wrong to to take on social media in the early hours of the morning to threaten others and posting photo of children. It is unclear what is the exact trigger of McGregor’s behavior and speculating would not be professional. But people around him should take immediate action.
As per the UFC -the promotors- should also take action. They should refrain from any conversation regarding McGregor’s competitive future as long as he continue to have issues – he previously assaulted a man at a bar in 2019- and indeed not allow him to fight until it is medically clear that he has rehabilitated from his issues.
UFC’s obligation is ethical. But even from a just “business-side” aspect, it is in their best interest to show that Mixed Martial Arts is a serious sport with serious sportspeople that can become examples to follow.