Thought to be dormant for a generation, a perilous sport sometimes referred to as “human cockfighting” has authorities perplexed and concerned. Played since millennia, the game of Mercy involves two participants trying to bend each other’s wrists back as far as possible before someone calls out, “Mercy!” Historically it was a child’s game, but sometime in the 1970’s strong men began grasping hands in dark, secret tournaments for big money prizes and machismo glory. The sport faded in the early 1990’s when people seemed to lose interest as MMA, and to a lesser extent, Ro Sham Bo became all the rage.
Now law enforcement officials say Mercy is making a comeback, and parents across the country are worried. Several illegal rings have been broken up, and arrests have been made in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
“Kids are impressionable; they’ll try anything, said Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Pristop, “First it’s the cinnamon challenge, then the ‘knockout’ game, now this lunacy.”
Much of the blame can be traced to a recent YouTube video of an old movie trailer from 1992 called Mercy No Mercy (a cross between Bloodsport, Road House, and Over the Top). A low-budget flop, it quickly disappeared from theaters and never had a home video release.
Blogger Ted Lee Sutton came into possession of the promotional material from a contact who once worked at Cannon Domestic Films. He remembered seeing the movie as a twelve year old and loved the combination of action and irresponsible violence.
“Look, the bigger story here is the fact that this movie was buried in a vast Hollywood conspiracy and that there’s an active Romanian gypsy curse attached to it,” said Sutton, 32, “I mean, everyone associated with it has died — I know, I did the research. Maybe that’s why it was covered up, but if it’s causing a lot of kids to play Mercy again, then I think it’s great. Mercy rules.”
One thing that doesn’t rule, according to the authorities, are the devastating list of injuries that players are experiencing.
“We’ve seen it all, said Pristop, “Broken wrists, separated shoulders, and bones sticking out of elbows. It’s an epidemic.” What would he say to a teen that was thinking of getting involved in Mercy tournaments?
“I’d tell them sure, it may look fun when everyone is doing it, but it’s like drugs and drinking — just say no. You can’t stop it though, just like when all those teens were sticking vodka-soaked tampons up their butts. Kids are such idiots, I really hate them.”