SPORTS & FITNESS
From Issue #5
Is Wrestling A Sport?
By Karen Coyle
Blood, broken bones, lies, conspiracy, vulgar language
and half naked women. You guessed it, pro-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 manoeuvres, but is that enough to call it
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
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 WWF and 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 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
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.