A lot of people follow NFL football, some NBA basketball, others major league baseball. Me? I follow wrestling. For decades people have debated the legitimacy of professional wrestling. Is it a sport, or isn’t it? Straight from my mouth, let me tell you now, it is not a sport.
Is it not a sport because the outcomes are predetermined? Or maybe because the wrestlers use steroids and hulk up to 300+ pounds? Maybe because there is typically more drama than action during a wrestling show? However, it can’t be for any of those reasons because we all know these things happen in the “real” professional sports too.
A lot of people cite the difference being that quest for glory. Hockey players fight tooth and nail to get the Stanley Cup. Being champion means you are the best, no questions asked. Frankly, wrestling is no different, only champions are chosen based on there performance, not points or wins.
Being the best in professional sports revolves around the winning record of a tam. Wrestling revolves around the athletes themselves and how they perform. You can’t just make anyone champion. Can they talk well? Can they put on a good show in the ring? Do they have any charisma? All these things go into being a top shelf wrestler.
Major league sports employ tons of athletes. A baseball team only has nine men out on the field at once, but there are dozens more men sitting on the bench waiting their turn to play ball. For every Derek Jeter and Greg Maddox there are 10 or more guys that don’t “have a name.” The roster of the wrestling business is smaller, but for every Hulk Hogan and The Rock there is a handful of men you’ll never see wrestle but once, let alone remember their names.
The name Eddie Guerrero might not have the cultural impact that Hulk Hogan does, but even casual wrestling fans will know the name. He had his face on trading cards, shirts, video games, and even had action figures. Every week, tens of thousands of people packed arenas to see Eddie and others perform. But unlike major league sports, wrestling has no off-season. It’s pretty safe to assume guys like Eddie are wrestling every night somewhere in the country. Just because it’s not on television doesn’t mean they do not perform nightly.
Just because wrestling isn’t a “sport” doesn’t mean it lacks any more dedication or passion from the players than any “real” sport. And just like real sports, wrestling could not survive without fans. Take away the customers and the business dies, it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting hoops or dishing out bodyslams. It takes people to make a business work.
Recently an ESPN disc jockey made some rather cruel remarks regarding Eddie Guerrero’s death (Listen for yourself, MP3). He claimed it didn’t matter that Eddie died and that no one cares, or should care. All this on account that he was a professional wrestler.
Now, all sports debates aside, saying no one cares is just silly. Some people agree with me. Even wrestlers have families, children, and friends…and in this case millions of fans. And on the topic of fans, again, fans determine the business and make or break the players involved. If told me some current big name football played died yesterday, there’s a high chance I would not know who you were talking about. Does that make his death unimportant? No, because in cases like this for every one person that doesn’t know who they were, there are millions that probably do.
Just because some snot nose sport jock doesn’t watch wrestling and chooses to waste his life knowing who played third base for the Reds in 1997, doesn’t mean that people don’t watch or love wrestling. Just because I remember when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III and not who won the 1985 World Series doesn’t mean there aren’t people that live and die by baseball.
OK. And when you walk down the aisles in Wal-Mart and see wrestlers on backpacks, pencils, blankets, and lunch boxes along side of the Michael Jordons and Donovan McNabbs, guess what? That means wrestling is a little more than some fly-by-night entertainment fad.
Professional wrestling is part of our pop entertainment culture. It is not part of sports history. Just because there is no Cooperstown for pro wrestlers, doesn’t mean that wrestling is any less significant to any given person.
I hate having to “defend” wrestling because nobody attempts to defend primetime television dramas or Hollywood movies. It is accepted that it is entertainment and that the people making this entertainment are just doing their job…and that’s entertaining.
Why do you love college football.
For all the same reasons, I love professional wrestling.
Why don’t you like pro wrestling.
For all the same reasons, I don’t care about basketball.
It is never a good or insignificant thing when someone that has given their dedication to entertaining you leaves. It doesn’t matter if they act on the screen, hit balls on the field, or throw themselves off the tops of steel cages.