Cleat Geeks

PRO WRESTLING: Sport First. Entertainment Second.

This is my second attempt at writing this column. The first attempt failed in my eyes. I found myself on a tangent far from the core message I intended to deliver. I became focused on individual tragedy in the wrestling world as a definition of the value of wrestling as a sport. Upon proofing the article I became less than thrilled with my product. I was annoyed by the meandering into the horror stories. In some desperate attempt to apply sympathetic feelings towards the acceptance of wrestling as a sport. Needless to say that article was dismissed. I realized two things. The first was that pandering to sympathy to rally support for an opinion actually diminished the validity of that opinion. The second realization was that this particular argument required neither deception nor sympathy mining. Your emotions are not required. Your fandom or lack of fandom is not a requirement. The only requirements are a modest amount of critical thought. A bit of fairness in critique.  Most importantly, a tad amount of respect.

Compare deaths resulting from competitive action and Pro Wrestling is at the top of that list. Compare brain trauma resulting in neurological disorders leading to depression and often resulting in suicide. Wrestling is right there with football at the top of that list.  Like the NFL becomes by week 6, Wrestling is in a constant state of injury. The old saying applies to both sports. “Everybody is playing with some type of injury”. It is constant wear and tear. Constant impact followed by impact. With Wrestling there is no off-season. No all star break. There is however several performances per week.  The damage inflicted through an individual’s pursuit of Wrestling is greater than any other sport on the planet. Bar none.  For furtherance and details of a sad and macabre nature I suggest google. As I wrote above, I need not mine for sympathy. The comparatives exist. But for this topic a shoot from the hip approach is far superior.

The commitment required by participants to the sport is on a par with any other sport on the face of the planet. Practice, eat and sleep. That is the world of a professional wrestler today. What is required of an athlete to rise to the top of this sport is as heavy a price as exists. The time commitment,  fitness regime, meal requirements and rest requirements are absolutely all consuming.  On a par with other sports. Once again without an off-season to recuperate.

Game planning is an integral part of the professional wrestling world. The combatants design and perfect the routine prior to performing it for the entertainment of a live crowd. Practice creates better results. Practice helps reduce injury risk. Practice provides the ability to provide the best product available. Compare it to an NFL team. The team practices a game plan all week long. The club scouts the upcoming opponent and creates a practice schedule. Then practices are contoured and plays are installed for the week based on the scouting report.  All in an effort to provide the best possible performance come gameday. The best possible outcome as they scripted during the week leading up to the performance before a live audience. The only difference of note is that wrestling is planned and practiced by both adversaries in unison.

Wrestling has fallen under the headline of Sports Entertainment. What sport would exist without entertaining? The love of wrestling is only usurped by the love of football here in the United States. Like football, the fans are, well, fanatical. They live within the sport at times. Rising and falling with the tide of their heroes.  It affects some in a very personal way. The attachment is real and it becomes a part of life. Just like football, baseball and basketball among others. Your personal investment in the success of your favorite leads to disappointment and sometimes elation. The emotional roller coaster is just as unpredictable as any other sport. The participants know the outcome. The spectator does not. From that aspect, wrestling provides the same escape and opportunity for fandom as any other sport in existence.

No conversation about wrestling’s authenticity as a sport could be complete without at least a mention to the scripted nature. Should you wager on wrestling outcomes? No, unless random betting is your vice. The size, speed, strength and other skills cannot be translated into accurate prognostications. The outcome after all is preordained. I assert that the script has no negative bearing on whether or not wrestling is a sport.  Why would that be a disqualifying point? Gymnastics, ice skating and a slew of other activities that nobody hesitates to label sport is fully scripted as well. Why is the gymnast who executes the practiced double back flip not marginalized because of the fact that it was scripted? Same with the ice skater. But the wrestler who jumps from the top of a cage onto a table is a fake. How that type of duality can exist in one mind is a puzzling human trait. The double standards are flawed and biased. Professional wrestling is not a fight. Professional wrestling is professional stunting. Played out in long term segments. The greater the skill of the athlete the greater his following and subsequent earnings. Just like every other professional athlete. If you look at professional wrestling with an objective eye the only thing you can see are great athletes putting themselves in harms way to provide entertainment to the fans who demand it. Wrestling is a sport in every possible way. It is high time that the professional wrestling industry was referred to first and foremost as sport.



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