We have all watched it at some point of time in our lives. Wrestling: not of the sumo or the Olympic kinds, but professional wrestling on TV that sells as sports entertainment, WWF in yore, now WWE.
This is being written in the wake of the murder-suicide of pro-wrestler Chris Benoit. The ‘rabid wolverine’ in the ring and now the ‘roid-rage’ murderer off it. Killing his wife in the drawing room, and then his son upstairs, he went to hang himself in his gym. Well he is not the only one. There have been other pro-wrestlers who have died a rather untimely death.
Owen Hart for example, who died in a car accident while driving to a pay-per-view, he was supposed to perform in.Owen Hart expired while being lowered on to the ring when the rope snapped. There have been numerous others. Not surprisingly there is a connection.
These sportspersons, rather performers, lead a life that can be euphemistically called on-the-razors-edge. They work out, obviously heavily doped with steroids, learning to perform with raging pain and then party late into the nights. That’s alright if one’s routine is getting punched in the abdomen, jumping from 30 feet on to hard concrete, or fracturing ribs while running into a steel ladder, or, even at times, getting hit by a speeding car! Not surprisingly these ‘athletes’ have pathetic personal lives: a saga of multiple marriages and divorces, an often punctuated by domestic violence. Falling prey to the script they perform for a living!
The astonishing, and at the same time, obvious, part of it is the popularity this breed of neo-gladiators enjoy. Thousands miles from where they break their bones, you see kids jumping in a sadistic joy at the revelry. Kids trading cards enumerating behemoth biceps-triceps they have never hope to possess. Kid who choose to believe they can face any challenge like their heroes on screen, with dignity and brute force. Not to mention the devious script of the entire show that can give any saas-bahu soap a run for its money. Don’t blame the genius of Vince McMahon for it.
Blame the parents. Parents, who push their offspring to achieve what they never could, be it at the cost of their childhood! Parent, who do what ever they can to make rock stars and IITians, scientist and cricketers of their kids. Parents, who prefer their kids to ogle at television and computer screens, to flying kites, playing marbles or football in the muddy fields. Parents who are helpless and prosaic, who cant help if all it takes is to be a rat to survive in this world sans magnets and miracles.
And if you know what a statutory warning means, here is another (pretty self-abnegatingly obvious): Please don’t try this at home.