This past Saturday, bar-goers in downtown Stevens Point
were offered the opportunity to throw back more than just drinks. The annual
event, aptly nicknamed “Fight Night” by students and residents alike, returned
to Club 956.
“It’s crowd-participation kick-boxing. You do not
receive any form of compensation for participating, and it is strictly
regulated and completely voluntary,” said Tim Schertz, the owner of the
According to Schertz, fights take place every Saturday
night through the months of February and March. Anyone willing is welcome to
partake, and participants must sign up between 10 and 11 p.m. Eight participants
are selected each night, and they are matched by size, weight, and physical
stature. Before each match begins, participants are fitted with an array of protective
equipment to ensure their safety.
“Everyone has shin protectors, groin protectors, head
protectors, and everyone gets a fresh mouth guard,” Schertz said. “Heavier
gloves are used to soften the blows, and there is always a licensed paramedic
In spite of these precautions, however, some
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students are still not convinced of the
legitimacy of Fight Night.
“It doesn’t seem very safe,” said Molly Santkuyl, a
senior early childhood education major. “I don’t think that putting drunk
people into a metal ring and having them fight each other is a very smart
Director of Student Health Services Jen Sorenson shares
a similar outlook, maintaining that concussions and other similar injuries associated
with repeated blows to the head are an unavoidable risk.
“Concussions are obviously a concern, but we also need
to worry about second-impact syndrome,” Sorenson said. “An initial concussion
can cause damage and cognitive problems, but if you get another injury within
a short timeframe after that, you can actually have significant additive
effects to the original cognitive impairment.”
Schertz is adamant, however, that safety is his number
“I always assess participants’ level of alcohol
consumption—if you’re intoxicated, you will not be allowed to participate,”
Schertz said. “If, for any reason, I feel that one participant is far superior
to the other, then the match is stopped. If you ever get a bloody nose or
bloody lip or anything like that, the match is stopped. If at any point you
are knocked down, the match is stopped.”
Alicia Casey, who is also a senior at UWSP, said she
feels the fighting is not specifically what is dangerous, but rather the
message it sends to spectators.
“I think that it provokes violence in the audience. The
fact that most of the people watching are drunk—I think it could cause situations
to escalate a lot faster,” Casey said.
Claire Kirschoffer, a graphic design major, agrees.
“It sounds slightly unsafe if people were to get drunk
later and attempt to have a rematch with someone outside of the ring or make a
negative decision due to alcohol consumption afterwards,” Kirschoffer said.
This apprehension, however, is not apparently shared by
“The public is requesting it to be here on a regular
basis,” Schertz said in reference to “Fight Night.” “People always want it to
come back because it is a fun promotion that everyone can participate in.”
Seth Nelson, a paper science and engineering major,
said that he has always enjoyed attending.
“It seems fun with a reasonable amount of safety,”
Nelson said. “I guess something could go wrong, but I see no more risk than any
other kind of intramural event.”
Steven Kling, a UWSP senior, also has no issue with
Fight Night returning to Stevens Point.
“I think it is a great idea to get people into the bar
and boost business,” Kling said. “I personally went to the fights this past
Saturday and was thoroughly entertained.”
Zach Brandenburg, a former UWSP student and resident
of Wisconsin Rapids, participated in Fight Night last Saturday, and made it
clear that he did not regret his decision.
“I felt that the fights were conducted in a safe way,”
Brandenburg said. “Before we fought, we had to meet with the bar owner, and he
went over what was legal and what wasn’t. It was pretty obvious that safety was
his main priority, other than providing fun entertainment for everyone.”
Nevertheless, Sorenson remains skeptical.
“Fighting generally ends badly. Protective gear or not,
alcohol consumption or not, there is always the risk of injury,” Sorenson said.
Regardless of personal stance however, Schertz assures
that Fight Night is both safe and here to stay.
“People come to participate thinking that this is an
Ultimate Fighting Championship-style event, and it’s not. You need to wear the
gear, and there is no grappling, no elbows, no going to the floor and no
wrestling,” Schertz said. “It’s good fun. It’s for entertainment, and it’s not
meant to be any more than that.”