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Fight game

The Nevada Athletic Commission did OK last fiscal year. The board – which licenses all exhibitions of “unarmed combat,” such as boxing or mixed martial arts – collected $5.3 million in fees, up 71 percent from the previous 12 months.

Normally, that money would go into the state general fund. But Assemblyman Harvey Munford, a Las Vegas Democrat, has resurrected his 2011 effort to divert a portion of those funds to pay for health care expenses and insurance coverage for boxers.

“In no other sport do participants suffer as severe brain damage as boxers,” Mr. Munford said.

The assemblyman’s previous bill to address such issues died in the Legislature without a hearing. The executive director of the Athletic Commission spoke out against the proposal, citing its impact on ticket prices and other concerns.

Mr. Munford notes that athletes in other professional sports receive retirement pensions and health care coverage unavailable to boxers.

True, but those benefits don’t come from the taxpayers. They are primarily the result of negotiations between team owners and athletes – and are funded privately.

Mr. Munford’s plan is well-intentioned. Boxing is a dangerous sport and serious injuries – even deaths – sometimes occur. But it’s not the job of taxpayers to cover the medical bills, pensions or living expenses of those who choose to enter the ring.

Instead, the creation of some sort of health and financial safety net for boxers is best left to those involved in the sport – the promoters, sanctioning organizations and the fighters themselves.

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