The UFC handed down instructions last week that fighters would no longer be permitted to sport Condom Depot as a sponsor. The brand had appeared on Zuffa programming since Andrei Arlovski's bout with Fabricio Werdum in April 2007.
What changed after 2½ years of fighter subsidization? Zuffa's think tank emerges periodically to ban gear because of conflicts with other promotions, personality conflicts with strayed athletes, or just for reasons unknown. Some speculation points to a pending UFC network deal, and a hesitancy to go over the air with a "lurid" banner affixed to a fighter's board short. (According to Depot owner John Fidi, whom I spoke with several months ago, his intention to sponsor Kimbo Slice for an EliteXC telecast on CBS in 2008 was shot down.)
If the reason is homogenization, cut me a break: the double standard regarding sex and violence in the states is growing unnervingly bold. Films that feature blood splatter and severed limbs can grab a PG-13 rating -- so long as they don't feature any nudity. As in MMA, gore is expected: sexual overtures are blacked out.
This archaic thinking isn't originating with the UFC. If the ban is in anticipation of problems with television standards, the complaint should be directed at networks that are apparently taking cues from the kinds of practices that kept Lucy and Ricky in separate beds for most of the 1950s. Hulu.com -- a video site owned and operated by NBC and Fox -- takes Trojan ads, while the NBC and Fox networks cluck about taking any before 10 p.m. Can you believe it?