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BIAA Calls on Nevada Athletic Commission to End Slap Fighting

February 23, 2023

BIAA Calls on Nevada Athletic Commission to End Slap Fighting

Fairfax, Va. – The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has released a letter that calls on the Nevada Athletic Commission to put an end to the “sport” of slap fighting as it poses a great danger to its participants to develop traumatic brain injury. BIAA is joining a growing chorus of individuals and organizations concerned about the health and safety of participants of The Power Slap.

The sport has recently gained notoriety with the airing of a primetime television program, The Power Slap: The Road to the Title that airs on TBS to an audience of 300,000. BIAA is urging swift action, as the prominence of the show on television and social media is spreading harmful messages about the seriousness of traumatic brain injury. You can read the letter here: BIAA Letter to Nevada Athletic Commission.

“What is being portrayed for the public to witness first hand is a real time laboratory for sustaining a traumatic brain injury,” said Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, Medical Director Emeritus at BIAA. “Blunt force trauma to the head, especially repetitive impacts over a brief period of time, result in changes in brain function that have devastating consequences for many individuals.”

U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) recently wrote a letter seeking answers from Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav about the program (Pascrell, Bacon Seek Answers on Violent New Show The Power Slap). The letter urges the network to reconsider airing The Power Slap on their network and demands information on steps taken to warn viewers about the dangers of the show’s violence and on brain injury prevention.

“Power Slap participants may not demonstrate immediate injury, but the unnecessary damage caused to their brain will have long-lasting and disastrous consequences,” the Members wrote. “Endeavor Productions, TBS, and UFC appear to have created and profited off a deadly television show, with significant reach and impact, without implementing basic and commonsense safety protocols.”

In October 2022, the Nevada Athletic Commission approved a proposal to allow for the regulation of “Slap Fighting” where two participants strike each other in a contest where defending oneself or dodging the blow are not allowed. The proposal was approved with many questions about the health and safety of the participants left unanswered. In 2021, a slap fight participant in Poland was hospitalized and died from injuries sustained following a knockout.

“If instead of one person slapping another, this ‘sport’ involved one animal biting another, or even a human slapping an animal, the public outrage would be massive and rightfully so,” Dr. O’Shanick said.

The rules as approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission make no mention of a process or procedures for determining if a participant has developed a concussion. According to the definition of a concussion by the Centers for Disease Control, a concussion is caused by a hit to the body or a blow or jolt to the head or that forces the brain to move rapidly back and forth.

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and it is a myth that concussions are not serious. They can be devastating if not attended to properly. It is important that those who sustain a concussion get proper assessment and treatment, and it is very important that they not sustain multiple concussions, as this can increase the likelihood of developing post-concussive syndrome (PCS) or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Repeated concussions have been shown to increase the likelihood of developing other neurological disorders as well.