Blood, broken bones, lies, conspiracy, vulgar language and half-naked women. You guessed it, this is professional wrestling. In the ‘old days’, wrestling was merely a way of saying, “I’m stronger than you”. Now, some call it a soap opera for guys, some call it entertainment and others call it crap. But can we call it a sport?
How many other sporting events have wedding ceremonies, ‘evening gown matches’ or athletes throwing each other through tables? None. Sure, the competitors have physical strength and are able to perform amazing manoeuvers, but is that enough to call it a sport?
Dan McGregor, a wrestling fan for about 20 years, thinks so. “The chances of injury are just as high in wrestling as they are in any other sport, and it takes just as much talent and skill to be a wrestler as it does to play hockey, baseball, football or any other sport. You train just as long, and you have to pay your dues just like in any other sport,” he states.
He also feels that, “the things that wrestlers do day-in and day-out are some of the most entertaining and exciting things you can watch on TV,” and adds, “the shows have become a lot more exciting, there’s more action and the wrestlers have become more outrageous.”
As expected, not everyone shares this point of view. Earlier this year, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) received a formal letter of complaint from a television viewer with regard to the content of the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) programming which he believes, “is vulgar, sleazy, sexist and violent.”
He specified that on one occasion he viewed, among other things, “A wrestler dressed as a pimp with his “Ho Train” women dressed sleazily and depicted as whores, a wrestler calling another scantily-clad woman a slut, excessive violence including chairs smashed over heads, a hockey stick jabbed into the groin and the usual array of over-the-top punching, kicking and slapping in and out of the ring.” He also added, “By absolutely no definition can these programs be considered sports or wrestling, and the outcomes are staged and predetermined.”
So, Is Pro Wrestling a Sport or Not?
The CBSC, which represents nearly 500 radio and television stations and specialty services across Canada, has made a ruling: “While there is no doubt that it does not partake of the nature of Greco-Roman wrestling or even freestyle wrestling, which audiences have been accustomed to watch as a part of, say, the Olympic Games or college sports or elsewhere, the national panel has no doubt about its nature. It is sport.”
They continue to say, “In the first place, that it may be entertainment does not exclude the possibility that it is also sport.…That the rules have been modified from traditional collegiate or Olympic wrestling does not disqualify it from being considered as a form of sport. Nor is it an argument against wrestling being a sport that some part of the match has been scripted (as TSN advises it has). After all, from the audience’s point of view, it appears to be a contest. They do not know the outcome. While they may watch the program in whole or in part for the shenanigans, the action in the ring involves athletics, competition (however unorthodox) and a winner and loser.”
So, There It Is. Pro Wrestling Is a Sport. Hmmm.
But is this what we’re asking for from our sports? It used to be all about, “May the best man win.” Now it seems to be, “I’m going to crack your skull open, let all your blood run out and then run you over with a truck.”
The late Owen Hart, a pro wrestler, fell to his death while trying to perform a stunt. The death was not caused by an actual wrestling move, but what does flying into the ring from the rafters have to do with wrestling, or sport for that matter?
Has our society regressed so much that we need to see people being maimed to entertain us? If we keep moving in this direction, the next thing you know we’ll all be wearing animal skin togas and feeding criminals to the lions.