Magazine article Risk Management

Boiling Frogs

Magazine article Risk Management

Boiling Frogs

Article excerpt

As I write this, I am sick as a dog. About two weeks ago, I picked up a pernicious virus that has since reduced me to a shambling wreck of a man. As bad as this thing is, I do have two points of solace. The first is that eventually, my suffering will end (whether by recovery or demise; both are about equally appealing right about now). The second is that my family and co-workers have also gone through this, which is a welcome verification that you really are as bad off as you feel. Misery certainly does love company, especially when you're hacking up a lung.

As a result, I have been so foggy in the head that I had, until the last day of our production schedule, been unable to think up a topic for this editorial. Then, as I lay half-conscious on my desk, my brother Tom (Remember him? The one who got shot in the gluteus maximus last month?) sent me an online video of an impassioned professional wrestling fan breaking down and crying as he addressed his idol--the veteran Terry Funk--at a live speaking appearance. The punchline of the video is when the blubbering fan blurts out, "It's still real to me, dammit!" At that point, even Funk has to tell the guy to get a hold of himself.

It's easy to crack wise at those who really believe in the fake reality of professional wrestling. But the true story of this video wasn't over some break with reality this fan was having. What he was really upset over, and what he was trying to talk about through his tears was the fact that Funk's wrestling career has left him virtually crippled. The excellent documentary Beyond the Mat details how Funk (and many wrestlers like him) have been physically shattered by the injuries they have sustained while putting forth wrestling performances. The guy in this video was trying to thank Funk for sacrificing his body to entertain wrestling fans like himself, but unfortunately, all he really did was make himself an easy target for a cheap joke.

The sick irony of wrestling is that its practitioners suffer real, debilitating injuries while engaging in fake combat that simulates real, debilitating injuries. Huh? These guys are, for the most part, notable athletes with a high threshold for pain. One would think if they were so willing to get hurt, they would at least engage in real contact sports (i.e., those without a predetermined outcome) that promise more legitimacy and money than wrestling ever could. …

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