FROM THE LOCKER ROOM: When Life Intervenes with Wrestling

0212-wrestler-sub-1969As ‘From the Locker Room’ is dedicated to discussing physical wellbeing, it’s arguably appropriate this section captures these sentiments. Specifically, making sense of the pre- and post-climate of the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Most importantly for this site, its impact on the wrestling community and its fans.

In doing so, I want to perfectly clear: this is not a political post. Nor we will disclose who we voted for.

Quite frankly, none of the election makes sense. Over the past week, I’ve read thousands of posts dedicated to finding a middle ground, yet my television is bursting forth with protests, angry pundits and general vitriol. I see the entire world literally chiming in on the merits of their opinion, what the United States should and shouldn’t be.

The wrestling community, of course, is a global one, with fans literally the world over. It also features gay fans and athletes, ones with disabilities, blacks, Hispanics, women, Moslems, Christians…well, you get the point. Thus, any discussion on the future of any of these individual groups in the United States finds a home in the wrestling world as well.

It therefore comes as little surprise that the wrestling community echoes the larger in being outspoken.

It takes but a few minutes to ascertain individual athlete/talent take on the Election; few are pulling punches. In all fairness, however, many of them were politically active and vocal well before the Election reared its now ugly head.

Quite frankly, I rarely agree with anything these individuals say. I’m also not affiliated with the entertainment industry, nor do I go places where individuals know who I am. There are no autograph seekers, shaving of body hair required, and/or weekend road trips across venues. Likewise having to work a ‘real’ job to afford my dream one. It’s therefore no surprise that these athletes and talent long for a way to speak versus be in the spotlight.

Ergo, while we know many of these individuals quite well, we don’t pretend to be one of them. We like to celebrate and support the people who bring us joy in an otherwise complicated life. That’s where it begins and ends.

I will confess, however, that comments by talent and athletes can rub me the wrong way. Ones I see as extreme will leave an impression, one that carries over to when I meet them at a merchandise table. I find myself continuously surprised at how – once I look them in the eyes, shake their hand – I realize those seemingly incendiary comments are simply that.

These same people, however, don’t always realize that posting as one’s character (under an online presence, stage name) is engendering cognitive dissonance. It breaks a third wall in the worst way, in their character now espousing views that are neither part of a storyline also alienate those who celebrate them.

If you asked athletes/talent their thoughts on this, they’ll probably remind you of two paragraphs earlier. Also state they don’t have time nor want to manage two sets of social media accounts. Finally, have a right to an opinion, fan perception be damned.

At a risk of stating the obvious, the vast majority of publicly shared opinions of this community – akin to others in entertainment – tends to lean toward a left (by current U.S. definition) political persuasion. Even with a PhD loosely dedicated to this topic, I have no idea why. Perhaps it strength in numbers that explains it and/or those of a similar ideology seem to find each other.

Similarly, this shared mind community must work together by openly advocating for keeping political opinions out of pro wrestling rhetoric.

Yes, Donald Trump is a WWE Hall of Famer based on his prior activities. But as President, his name holds no place outside locker room discussion. Just because fans cheer, doesn’t mean they want an athlete dictating immigration policy versus a promo via microphone. Even if half of these fans (based on polling numbers) agree with you. The same holds true for international athletes: this external perspective isn’t a free pass to take potshots at another country. Please stop.

I’ll be frank: the community at large – whether they realize it – do NOT want to hear what an of you have to say on this, in this specific format.

Don’t misread these sentiments: this is not advocating for censorship.

The politics of pro wrestling are brutal, let alone those running the world’s most powerful country. Rather, expression in a proper format – sans neutering any of these opinions short of hate speech – will go a long way to make pro wrestling a shining example and safe space for all, regardless of political view.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking having a balanced discussion provides safety. Few are capable of arbitrating to such an extent that balance is even capable. Nor does contrasting viewpoints in a single form equate to fairness. Last, who is to say anyone wants to or should have to hear it in what should be an entertainment format?

Related, this does not mean politics isn’t a fun and enduring angle for pro wrestling.

The Iron Sheik, for example (see picture at top), goes down in history as one of pro wrestling’s most celebrated figures for capably representing a taboo political topic in the ring. Recently, Caprice Coleman’s ingenious ‘Cabinet’ hysterically mocked the Election shenanigans versus candidates. Both served as reminders that politics is a fact of life, not life itself.

I’m not the pot calling the kettle black. In critiquing this via social media…I’m a seeming hypocrite for capitalizing on this imaginary podium of 1000+ followers to have my say.  There’s thousands of other, much more popular and successful forums that do that, run by people who make a living off it.

Don’t take the bait from these prominent outlets and individuals salivating over the next pro wrestler opinion they can manipulate. And – in avoiding such – use your podium to serve as examples on how express said opinion in the correct and user controlled format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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