Archive for the ‘BC Athletic Commissioner Act’ Category

I previously discussed that the BC Government has introduced sensible legislation seeking to create an Athletic Commissioner who will be tasked with regulating professional MMA and other Striking Sports on a Province wide basis.

I am following this matter and today had a chance to review the Government’s comments on the Floor of BC’s Legislature when Bill 50 was first introduced.  For the sake of convenience I reproduce these here:

BILL 50 — ATHLETIC COMMISSIONER ACT

Hon. I. Chong presented a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor: a bill entitled Athletic Commissioner Act.

Hon. I. Chong: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill 50 be read for the first time now.

Motion approved.

Mr. Speaker: Continue, Minister.

Hon. I. Chong: This bill would provide for the establishment of a provincial athletic commissioner to regulate and supervise professional boxing, kickboxing and other similar sporting events, including mixed martial arts. Once established, the commissioner’s primary focus would be to ensure consistent application of safety rules for participants in professional contests. This approach will replace local government commissions that currently require and regulate these types of events with a centralized regulatory body ensuring consistency across the province.

This legislation would not apply to amateur sporting contests. The duties of the commissioner would be to ensure a consistent standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework. It would ensure compliance with the proposed act and its regulations through the use of suspension or cancellation of licences and event permits as well as administrative penalties.

The benefit of having a provincial athletic commissioner would be that every professional boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts or similar event would be subject to the same rules and regulations whether it’s being held in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Vernon or anywhere else in the province.

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Since sports such as kickboxing and mixed martial arts are very popular and are taking place without a consistent regulatory framework, it makes sense to be proactive about creating this position to increase the safety of athletes and officials as well as to provide certainty for communities and the industry.

I move that the Athletic Commissioner Act be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Bill 50, Athletic Commissioner Act, introduced, read a first time and ordered to be placed on orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

I will continue to follow the development of this law and post relevant updates at this blog as they develop.

With Bill 50 expected to become law soon in British Columbia, Professional MMA will benefit from consistent standards Province wide

Once a Provincial Athletic Commissioner is appointed standards will need to be designed that will apply to MMA competitions in BC pursuant to the Commissioner’s obligations under Section 4 of the Athletic Commissioner Act and more specifically pursuant to section 46(2)(m) of the Act.  When setting the standard both fighter safety and industry consistency will need to be taken into account.  Both of these factors point to the adoption of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

The Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts have been widely utilized over the past decade and have demonstrated good results in protecting fighters.  In perhaps the most comprehensive study into this issue, the 2007 Johns Hopkins Study “INCIDENCE OF INJURY IN PROFESSIONAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COMPETITIONS” published in the Journal of Sport Science and Medicine concluded that under the Unified Rules “The injury rate in MMA competitions is compatible with other combat sports involving striking.”. 

Of note, this study highlighted that the vast majority of injuries were of a resolvable nature (with facial lacerations making up nearly 50% of the reported injuries) and that traumatic brain injury rates were far lower than in regulated professional boxing noting the following “As opposed to professional boxing, MMA competitions have a mechanism that enables the participant to stop the competition at any time.  The “tap out” is the second most common means of ending an MMA competition…(which) is thought to help explain a knockout proportion in MMA competitions that is almost half of the reported 11.3% of professional boxing matches in Nevada

Moving on to consistency, there is certainly no greater accepted standard for MMA contests in North America than the Unified Rules.  With the Association of Boxing Commissions unanimously adopting this standard in 2009 BC’s MMA Regulations will have little reason to go outside this standard.

Last but not least, if the purpose of this legislative overhaul is to court the UFC back to British Columbia, giving the UFC the fighting regulations they are most familiar with certainly makes sense.

Leaving aside the fact that professional MMA is currently technically illegal in BC, an additional problem is that professional MMA events in British Columbia are subject to inconsistent regulatory requirements.

The reason being that local municipalities are allowed to form their own Athletic Commissions based on the power given to the them by section 143 of BC’s Community Charter (or in the case of Vancouver by Part XIX of the Vancouver Charter).

Fortunately, the Provincial Government has taken a meaningful step to remedy this with the introduction of Bill 50.  This Bill, introduced earlier this week in the Legislature, seeks to create a Province-wide Athletic Commissioner who will be responsible for the following:

(a) the regulation and supervision of professional contests or exhibitions in accordance with this Act and the regulations;

(b) licensing and permitting under this Act;

(c) the enforcement of this Act and the regulations.

Importantly, section 50 of the Bill specifically speaks to repealing the power of Vancouver and other municipalities to create their own athletic commissions.

In short this will replace the myriad of different regulations local municipalities have created for professional MMA fights.  This will create consistency which will benefit both participants and hosts of these events.

It is worth noting that Vancouver, while being stripped of the ability to create their own Athletic Commission, will still retain the right to veto MMA events if they wish because the Vancouver Council will be given the discretion to “prohibit a professional contest or exhibition, including a professional contest or exhibition for which an event permit is required under the Athletic Commissioner Act.”

I should note that as of today’s date this Bill is just that, a Bill.  It has not formally become law although Third Reading is expected shortly.  I will provide an updated post once this Bill becomes formal law.