Provo's mayor and City Council deserve credit for taking action against the so-called "fight clubs" that have sprung up like poisonous toadstools in their city lately. At the very least, this will give police a good reason to put a stop to what scores of young people have mislabeled "recreational violence."

The ordinance is a bit clumsy, however. It will, as council members already acknowledge, need to be rewritten to express specifically what is outlawed and what, under certain very strict guidelines, should be allowed. While it does require the mayor's signed permission to stage a fight, as well as proper crowd control and medical supervision, the ordinance does not define fighting or boxing. It doesn't detail what it means by requiring proper safety equipment. It allows for fights at which fewer than 10 people are present, which seems to imply that crowd control is the city's main concern.

Organizers of the fight club — students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College — didn't show much of an interest in attracting large crowds, at least initially. Photos on the club's Web page show fights being staged in a home in front of only a handful of people. Only later, when hundreds of people showed up for bouts staged in parks and other impromptu locations, did concerns about large crowds enter in. The recreational aspect of the club, whose members seemed to show an appalling lack of concern about the dangers involved, was perhaps its most disturbing attribute.

Serious injury or death could have marred these bouts, just as they could mar the bouts teenagers and other copy-cat clubs have staged throughout Utah County. For the city to say this is OK if fewer than 10 people are present is disturbing. The term "recreational fighting" is a contradiction, and it is not proper entertainment for any size group that does not follow proper rules and guidelines.

Provo should work immediately to tighten the ordinance, while police take what already has been passed and use it to crack down on any other fights they come across. Meanwhile, other cities in Utah County should pass similar laws. Never again should police have to stand by helplessly and allow people to pummel each other senseless.