U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-9) and Don Bacon (R-02, Nebraska) are seeking answers about brain trauma related to the new “Power Slap” league from Warner Bros. Discovery, who began airing the slap fighting competition on TBS last month.
“As the Co-Founders and Co-Leaders of the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task
Force and authors of the Traumatic Brain Injury Act, we write to you with grave concerns about your new show, The Power Slap: The Road to the Title. This crass program glorifies dangerous and aggressive behavior at the expense of its participants’ long-term health,” the congressmen wrote to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav yesterday.
“From what we can tell, The Power Slap capitalizes on violent behavior and lurid drama
masquerading as athletic prowess for profit. Participants are subject to sudden and powerful blows to the head and face causing ‘rotational acceleration,’ a primary cause of concussion and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).”
The league premiered on TBS on January 18th in the wake of UFC President Dana White, who produces the Power Slap show, getting caught on video slapping his wife during an argument on New Year’s Eve.
Power Slap, which has been sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. and features competitors utilizing open-handed slaps below the eye and above the chin.
While the bouts almost always ended in a knockout, there is a 10-point scoring criteria similar to what is used in boxing in the event a contest goes for three full rounds.
Pascrell and Bacon, the co-chairs of the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force, also noted that the league appears to be aimed towards a younger audience that are fans of combat sports such as boxing and MMA.
“This crass program glorifies dangerous and aggressive behavior at the expense of its participants’ long-term health. The Power Slap seems to be geared toward a younger audience. Its dangerous content is not sheltered behind a paywall, nor are any attempts made to protect the most vulnerable viewers,” their joint letter also said
“Instead, the program debuted during a popular time slot, exposing families and children to unnecessary violence. And the Power Slap’s social media accounts are replete with sleekly produced clips designed to attract young viewers and encourage them to share the show widely, possibly unaware of the dangers. The videos glorify those who can withstand the worst blows to the head without collapsing.”
They also criticize Endeavor (the parent company of the UFC), the UFC, and TBS for creating and profiting off an apparent “deadly television show” without taking any “commonsense safety protocols.”
The two congressmen also note that the show airs for free and highlights are also available for free on social media.
Additionally, Pascrell and Bacon ask three specific questions: does their program air a disclaimer about the impacts of concussions/head head trauma, do participants have access to free, long-term brain monitoring programs, as well as asking for details in writing on how participants are informed of the dangers of the competition.
Back in September, Pascrell demanded answers from the NFL after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appeared to sustain head trauma in back-to-back games.