California has regulated boxing for 80 years, in order to (ahem) maintain the integrity of the sport and the health of the boxers. So if you want to stick some guys in a ring and have people pay to watch them (safely) beat each other to a pulp, you have two options: 1. Conform to 128 pages of regulations and do whatever the Athletic Commission tells you to do. 2. Become a big-shot reality TV producer and negotiate a better deal. The producers of Fox’s “The Next Great Champ” and NBC’s “The Contender” got approval to circumvent a state law requiring immediate public disclosure of bout results: [T]he commission granted the reality-show producers a break seldom if ever extended to other promoters, according to two former commission chairmen and two licensed California promoters contacted for this story. They also negotiated lower-than-normal state taxes on the license-fee payments mandated for boxing broadcasts. Why did they get the kid glove treatment? Michelman, an Encino attorney, said that commissioners agreed to delay the reporting requirements partly because they were concerned that the TV producers might shoot their productions in other states if their conditions were not met. While the delayed disclosure waivers seem unlikely to set off a wave of copycat requests, some say they might embolden boxing promoters to ask for special deals of their own. And what about the bigger issue? Why is California regulating boxing at all? Look what’s on the list of boards and commissions the California Performance Review says should be abolished … the Athletic Commission. And what about that other, bigger issue? If regulators will cut special deals for TV powerbrokers in order to keep jobs from moving out of state, why not loosen restrictions for other businesses, too? Certainly, less glamorous jobs are also worth saving. Here’s the whole story.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.