If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you should care about net neutrality.
Net neutrality, which is the current norm (for the most part) for the internet, is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. In a net neutral world, the delivery of information from a content giant like Netflix would be given the same priority as content delivered from your little brother’s first website.
Currently, major internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast are lobbying the FCC for the legal right to charge for premium priority bandwidth. For a service like Netflix, this means paying Verizon and Comcast for a “fast lane” to ensure that content from Netflix is delivered to users without lag or interruption. In this scenario, if Netflix would opt to not pay this premium, users would be likely to experience choppy playback, long load times, and perhaps even a total loss of access to the Netflix service.
Netflix might be able to afford this charge, but the majority of small business owners will likely find themselves at a huge disadvantage in this pay-to-play environment. Where the internet once created a level playing field where a singular entrepreneur could have his or her voice heard and gather a huge amount of momentum based on the merit of their work and ideas alone—think the early start of Facebook or MineCraft—the loss of net neutrality will build a wall between the people that have the money to be heard and the people that don’t.
And this matters for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The internet has given our community a way to unite our conversation, a conduit for exchanging techniques and ideas, and a platform to share our passion with others. Veterans of the sport will recall clipping techniques out of grappling magazines or tracking down old VHS mix-tapes of competitions and MMA matches. When Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu hit YouTube, we suddenly had a quick way to pool our collective knowledge and exchange ideas. Because of the internet, Worm Guard has already spread around the world where before you would burn out a VHS player rewinding and rewinding a grainy portion of a match to analyze the technique.
For us, that’s at stake.
So now imagine a world where content providers have to pay to play. How would that affect a service like MGInAction? What about the Grappler’s Guide? What about any of the other online technique databases? Worse yet, what if YouTube follows Facebook’s lead and starts to charge content providers a premium for access to their audience (business pages now have to pay to “boost” Facebook posts so that their entire audience sees the update)? Imagine what our culture would lose if suddenly creatives like BJJ Hacks or Stuart Cooper had to pay extra for their videos to stream smoothly and in high quality?
It would be a tragic loss for the collective voice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Net neutrality is a complex issue, and I urge you to learn more. Save the Internet is a good place to start. John Oliver of Daily Show fame also gives a good (and entertaining) summary of the issue on his new show Last Week Tonight. If you’d like to skip right to making a difference, this page summarizes everything that you can do to make your voice heard.
Speak up on behalf of your art.