Neuroscientists and sports stars have condemned a new competition in which participants take turns slapping each other as hard as they can.
Power Slap: Road to Championship, by UFC president Dana White, It came under scrutiny after its launch this week.
The TV show, which premiered on Wednesday, Jan. 18, will air eight episodes that its creators say are unscripted.
It highlights competitors from around the world as they battle it out on stage to prove they have the biggest slap.
Former wrestler and neuroscientist Chris Nowinski, chief executive of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, said the show was “pure exploitation” and suggested a contestant appeared in a video he shared on Twitter. or “may never be the same”.
Nowinski, in tagging White and TBS, the US television network that airs the show, said they should be “ashamed” for creating and supporting a movement that he said could put people at risk of serious brain damage.
“What’s the next step, ‘Who will survive the stabbing?'” he added.
Sky News examines what the series was about – and why pundits condemned it.
What is a Power Slap and what are the rules?
In the two-minute preview video, White explained the rules of the game, which is licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“Before the game starts, there will be a coin toss to initiate the first slap,” he said.
“There are up to three rounds in a fight, and in each round, the boxer will open his palm and hit his opponent in the face.”
At the start of the round, the first “striker” has a 30-second time limit to open his palm below the eyes but above the chin.
The batter cannot lead with the palm, and must touch the ground with all hands at the same time.
After being slapped, the contestant has 30 seconds to recover and return to a “fighting stance”.
Judges use a 10-point system, just like boxing, where the winner of a round gets 10 points and the opponent gets 9 or fewer.
Those who were slapped were not allowed to flinch, raise their shoulders or tuck their jaws – rules that seemed to be behind the claim that they were actually defenseless.
“It’s the ultimate test of resilience,” White said.
Why experts care about the competition
Experts warn that the event has the potential to cause significant and long-lasting physical harm to participants.
Professor Nikos Evangelou, a consultant neurologist at Nottingham University Hospital, told Sky News: “One problem with Power Slap is that participants are penalized when they move or flinch.
“Any movement that might reduce the effect of a blow to the head will be penalized.”
“A blow to the head from an angle causes a rotational force in the brain” — a “potato recipe,” he says.
Professor Evangelou added: “Sooner or later we will see more severe brain damage from dissection.”
When asked what the long-term health effects of repeated head trauma were, Professor Evangelou said it should be recognized that memory and other cognitive effects on the brain may have lasting effects.
what’s the risk?
Professor Evangelou described the power and potential danger as possibly the same as a punch.
“It’s all about physics,” he told Sky News.
“The force applied to the face is the same force that would be applied to the face. The head/brain is hit and the brain is concussed, hopefully causing temporary but sometimes permanent disruption to brain function.
“Sadly, more serious complications may arise due to possible twisting movements of the head.”
If a blow to the head ruptured one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain, death could result, he said.
“Sadly, this is not uncommon in clinical practice.”
Professor Evangelou said that “most of the time”, he expects participants to just “get dizzy”, but sometimes they become unresponsive, lose their balance, become confused or twitch.
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what people say on social media
Many people shared their thoughts on Twitter.
“Whoever says it’s a good idea to stream this needs to check their heads. Not true,” wrote one user.
Another added: “It’s undeniably shameful. Not only for the organization that produced it, but also for the audience who consumed it. Why watch a completely defenseless human being with no protection suffered a concussion.”
However, there are also fans.
“I’m not particularly fond of it, but these are adults who know the risks,” one tweeted.
what the organizers said
Those behind the race have been at pains to highlight the steps they’re taking to keep participants safe.
In a recent interview, White answered questions about the Warriors’ health.
“We spend money to make sure that we have two healthy people out there with proper medical care during and after the fight,” he said.
“These are the things we need to educate people about, just like we need to educate people about mixed martial arts.”
UFC Chief Commercial Officer Hunter Campbell previously told ESPN that the Power Slap league has been carefully tested and is based on a set of rules and structure based on mixed martial arts (MMA).
He also said the league will have similar medical requirements to MMA, such as weight classes and pairings.
“After the test, it became clear to us that there was huge potential here as a sport, unlike the early years of the UFC,” he said.
“For all the obvious reasons – number one, the health and safety of the players, it makes sense worldwide to have regulation before the sport even starts.”
Sky News reached out to the creators of Power Slap, TBS and the Nevada Athletic Commission for comment.