In this column, sports columnist Allan Akholms wrestles with the eternal question: “Can pro wrestling be called a sport?”
By: Allan Akholms
Before being fully capable of answering that very question, we need to define what a sport is. The dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Now, knowing the definition, we can check off the criteria. Does pro wrestling involve physical exertion and skill, yes. Is Professional wrestling a competition? Arguably. And is it done for the entertainment of others? Absolutely.
Having answered two of the main questions with certainty, it’s important to put the second question in the clear. Is Wrestling a competition, conceptually it is, while scripted it is still a battle between two wrestlers. People could argue that the winner of the match is predetermined and that takes away the factor of competition, and while that may be right, there are other ways to look at pro wrestling in terms of competition.
The first way to see competition in pro wrestling is by taking a wider and broader look at the whole industry itself. Like in any other sport, there is competition beyond the battleground, and that is the “skill and popularity contest”. The more general battle that can be observed in the sports entertainment industry is the battle for fame, who attracts more attention, and who has more fans. Likewise, there is also the battle for the pure skill that goes into putting on a pro wrestling performance.
The second way of looking at pro wrestling in terms of the competition is the battle for ratings. Like any other sport, professional wrestling is a business, and the first priority of a business is money. You could see the battle of the ratings between different professional wrestling companies and promotions as the competitive part of the sport, and that would make an entire company a team battling another.
The final and easiest way to see competition in professional wrestling is by looking at it from a cinematic point of view, like watching a movie or a play. When you look at it like that, there is undeniably a noticeable conflict that goes on within the squared circle. And sure, you could argue that it’s losing the reputation of a sport and becoming more of a performance art.
I think I have formulated a good response to the general question of whether or not professional wrestling is a sport or not. The answer is yes it is. The reason being is that not only is the product of professional wrestling labeled as “sports entertainment” there is plenty of evidence that shows incredible athleticism and devotion from other people to be great at this sport. And while the doubters will keep saying that it’s all a play and it’s like a dance, the first thing I have to say is that wrestlers obtain legitimate injuries from this and it requires incredible stamina and athleticism. The second thing I have to say is when did dancing stop being a sport while also being a form of art? Dancers are like wrestlers in terms of being very devoted to their craft, athletic in nature, and incredibly competitive in their own right. All that said, I hope that this article has introduced you to a new perspective as well as maybe a different understanding of sports and arts combined.