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To The Best Of Our Knowledge
August 11, 2019
Listen to This Week's Show

Why Do We Watch Violent Sports?

boxing gloves

Horrific real-world violence is quite often blamed on the violent media we consume — that's a story that goes back to comic books in the 1950s. But on this week’s show, we thought we'd take a look at violent sports — where two combatants fight, either in boxing or mixed martial arts — and ask why. Why do they fight? Why do we watch? 

I grew up watching boxing and professional wrestling. It was about heroes and villains, a cathartic display. It felt like fiction that I could get wrapped up in, until the tragic fight between Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Duk Koo Kim — the 1982 "Fight That Changed Boxing Forever." Kim died in that fight after sustaining fatal head injuries. The tragedy of that fight (and its consequences, which played out for years afterward) left me shaken — I wrote a bit about it, as well as how it relates to two more recent (and equally tragic) deaths in the boxing ring. 

I'm not sure how I feel about watching such a violent sport —Steve and I talk a bit about that on this week's show.

Do you watch violent sports, like boxing or football, or other kinds of violent entertainment? Are you conflicted about it at all? Write back, we'd like to hear more about your thoughts on it.

—Charles

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The Fight That Didn't Change Boxing Enough

boxer
Producer Charles Monroe-Kane on how the boxing world has sidestepped brain injury in the ring.
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Debating the Ethics of 'America's Tragic Theater'

Start of an amateur boxing match, Rayne, Louisiana. 1938. Photographer Lee Russell
In light of recent boxing tragedies, Charles and Steve are grappling with the ethics of boxing. It’s a debate that’s probably going on in a lot of places and will – unfortunately – continue.
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To Make Big Social Change, Start With The PB&J Sandwiches

Deray Mckesson
Organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson says hoping for big change is great, but it doesn't go anywhere without small actions where people take care of one another.
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Toni Morrison On The Black Community And The Intersection Of Class And Race

Toni Morrison, via Penguin Randomhouse (Michael Lionheart)
In a conversation from 2003, Toni Morrison reflected on how the civil rights movement had the unintended consequence of magnifying class differences.
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How Do We Investigate The Invisible Parts of the Universe?

The first image of a black hole.
Steve spoke with Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan about the search for invisible parts of the universe, dark matter, and the mind-boggling nature of black holes.
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How To Catch A Neutrino

Francis Halzen, the lead scientist of the IceCube Neutrino Detector, explains how light sensors buried deep in the ice at the South Pole detected a neutrino that traveled four billion light-years.
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