Does It Matter What Others Think Of Us? MMA and South Dakota’s Image
I saw this story on Yahoo Tuesday. It is about the South Dakota state government's attempt to try to stop those darn kids from playing so rough. The Legislature is already taking on the scourge of text messaging teenagers and now they want to save the word from Mixed Martial Arts. Or as state house Rep. Steve Hickey call it "...the child porn of sports."
"Their primary objective is to ban sanctioned mixed martial arts in the state....The lack of knowledge and the lack of research both Daugaard and Hickey showed about MMA has to be frightening for persons who live in South Dakota. If they can't be bothered to do the minimal research required to learn that MMA is far safer than other "mainstream" sports, including football, it's scary to think about the laws they'll pass in the state regarding education, health care and budgets." -Kevin Iole sports.yahoo.com
I'm not writing isn't about the specific silliness of the idea. Plenty of others have that covered. What concerns me is how stuff like this reflects on our state. Especially that last bit:
"...it's scary to think about the laws they'll pass in the state regarding education, health care and budgets."
Some would say - "I don’t care what them fancy pants city folk think 'bout South Dakota." Regional pride is great. I love and am super proud that I was born, raised and live on The Great Plains. This is the best part of the best country on earth. Which is why I cringe when our elected representative represent us like this.
It matters because unless you like modern ghost towns, a shrinking tax base and dwindling services our state's reputation is very important. It's the same as when my mom yelled at me for wearing ripped-up jeans "If you look like trash you are treated like trash."
Don't think of this as image in the sense that South Dakota need to 'look cool' or some goofball thing. It's about demonstrating where our priorities as a state are. Investors and business people see this as the focus of our government. They see a government that is spending time chasing ghosts and rehashing arguments from 1992. Not building roads, strengthening infrastructure or ensuring that the tools of the 21st century are in place to attract the talent of the 21st century.
It is not just the investors that are turned off by this. Children leave our small towns not because “there's nothing to do." But because there is nothing to do. The most entry level professional and technical jobs are located where those aforementioned investors invest. People live where they can work. They live, buy houses, pay taxes, raise children and start businesses in those places.
We hear all the time about the comparative hell that are places like California; the taxes, traffic and so many people. But companies still go there. Or they go to Connecticut or New York. It's worth it because that is where the tools and talent are. What is needed to make the most money for the most people is there.
In the northern states we have additional hurdle of cold weather to overcome when we talk of attracting people and money to the state, we don't need to fuel a negative image by presenting this silly face to the world as well.