Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wrestling's Dark side

Once again, a wrestler has died. Once again, drugs are either blamed or involved. Yet no one has thought to blame the sport itself or it's fans.

The sport, i.e. those in charge of the companies, tell the wrestler that he or she must look a certain way.

If you are a woman, you must add inches to your breasts and subtract inches from your waist. You must look like a Hollywood model and still be able to fight. Or, in my opinion, play fight. But look at the great women wrestlers like the Fabulous Moolah. She was not in the "perfect" shape (no offence to her meant), but she was quite able to fight and fight anyone. She showed toughness and tenacity. She was blessed with ability and worked hard for what she won. Today in the most watched wrestling rings, we watch "Hollywood model-types" wresting in skimpy outfits and the "fighting" is similar to that seen in a school yard. Not all the women are like this, but most are. And if they are honest with themselves, they know that their "fighting" is nothing more than pandering to men's desire for near nude women competing for attention. Let any one of those ladies come out in a singlet, like Moolah wore, and listen for the boos and watch her get fired.

The men have it no better. They must look extremely muscular and risk their health every time they get into the ring. They can't be wiry and and agile. They must have "rippling muscles" even if their body types are not designed for that kind of look. They need to workout in a gym for hours a day, yet they have to travel and preform daily. There is not enough time for adequate rest and gym time and travel time. Their families suffer the life of having a Dad about 3 times per month. Then Daddy leaves again. Many wrestlers are addicted to pain pills, so we are being told. No kidding. If we, as normal human beings, went thru what they do for even 2 days, we'd be in the hospital.

And both sexes have NO HEALTH CARE INSURANCE. Few have life insurance. Why? Well, healthcare insurance is not offered by any of the companies that make a profit off of these men and women's LIVES. Independant healthcare companies are afraid to insure them, due to their "high risk" lifestyle. Life insurance is almost as big a joke. Again, most companies won't touch them. This insurance should be provided by their employers, you know, the ones who make the most profit for the least amount of money. But it is not offered. So, they must go on wrestling, even when they are hurt, just to pay their bills.

In his first book, Mick Foley refers to this a "bleeding for dollars". A very apt description for the lifestyle they must live. Yes, they could leave and get other jobs. But this is their profession that they love. Why must it not provide for them? If they worked in any corporate office setting as a mail clerk, they would have all the insurance and even paid vacation. But wrestling is not office work.

Lastly, we, the fans, are to blame for much of this. We want to see these men and women looking like they do and wrestling as often as they do. We "suspend" reality to enjoy the matches, but we don't consider the lives of those we watch. Let's face ourselves. We want "high risk maneuvers" and rippling muscles. The men (and some of us women) want to see the "Hollywood model" wrestling in high heels and have large breasts. We want them to go from town to town without rest. All because of entertainment.

I have been a wrestling fan since 1982. I've seen them come and go. I've seen them die way too young. It's time that we all see them for who they are-people. People who, if they want to keep their jobs, can't ask for a union or healthcare. It is up to us as loyal fans to start the fight for healthcare, for insurance and for time off. Does this mean that the wrestlers will wrestle less? Yes. Does this mean that we, the public, will not see them as often as we want. Yes. But this may mean that these men and women may live to see there children grow up and have children of their own. It is definately worth it.