Marines retreat on sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting

BJ Penn, right, fights Rory MacDonald in an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in December. BJ Penn, right, fights Rory MacDonald in an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in December. Gregory Payan/AP

The Marine Corps recruiting office has ended its controversial sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting Championship events after a petition campaign protested behavior by some of the sport’s participants as sexist and pro-violence.

“The Marine Corps Recruiting Command's contracted advertising agency's partnership with UFC expired Nov. 30, 2012,” spokesman Maj. John Caldwell said Monday in an email to Government Executive. “The Marine Corps continues to stress strong personal values in markets that are viewed by young men and women who are interested in military service. Due to evolving mission requirements, budgetary constraints, marketing analysis and the recommendation of our contracted advertising agency, resources previously allocated to the endeavor have been applied to alternate priorities.”

In May, the Nevada-based UNITE HERE union formed a coalition of veterans, gay rights advocates and anti-violence organizations to launch a campaign called Unfit for the Corps. They sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and members of Congress protesting statements by some professional cage fighters in interviews and videos making light of rape and mocking gays. They demanded that the Marines discontinue their three-year, $2 million sponsorship of ultimate fighting, which the Corps saw as a fertile subculture for recruitment.

Owners of the Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting organization charged that the union was disgruntled over its inability to organize the culinary workers in the company’s casinos.

UNITE eventually gathered more than 10,000 signatures and held rallies in 10 cities, according to spokesman Chris Serres. Partners included the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, Protect Our Defenders, Veterans for Common Sense, Veterans for Peace, and the National Institute for Military Justice.

The Defense Department and the Marines in August agreed to research the issue, described by an officer in one letter to a lawmaker as “inappropriate conduct” by a “handful of individuals.”

Following the decision to let the sponsorship expire, the union on Monday sent a letter to executives at Anheuser-Busch asking that they too end their sponsorship of ultimate fighting. An ally in the struggle, Serres said, was Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who died Monday.

Marines Corps spokesman Caldwell placed the decision in the context of new planning guidance issued by the commandant, Gen. James Amos, “that we will ‘improve diversity representation throughout our Corps.’ ”

Caldwell said the recruiting command has “enhanced its integral role at the accession point. Via expanding advertising and community engagement opportunities, MCRC is reaching out to potential officer applicants, centers of influence, and members of society at large in order to create awareness of opportunities regarding Marine Corps officer and enlisted programs and remain connected with the American public. The command's expanded investment in accessing a diverse and representative officer corps helps generate and sustain a future force that has the cultural expertise, language skill sets and a variety of philosophies needed to meet the operational requirements of the Marine Corps.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.