Separating the sports from the competitions, putting wrasslin’ in its place

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2005

Times-Journal Sports Editor

With the re-design of The Times-Journal upcoming, we thought about things that could be included in the spiffy, new section.

The sports section will see the addition of new and different things such as improved professional coverage and a higher dedication to covering high school and recreational sports.

In the discussion, the question was posed about what’s a sport, what’s a competition and what should be ranked with the shows on the Soap Opera Channel. According to Webster’s dictionary, which I’ve had since I was a frosh in high school, in 1996 the word "Sport" is defined as (1) recreation involving physical activity, (2) and to play vigorously. That’s a broad interpretation of sport, in my opinion. I prefer to be a little more selective when it comes to branding leisure activities sports.

To me, there is a difference between a sport and a competition. Naming the "sports" was easy. The grey area came in determining what things should fall into the competition category.

On the other hand, my handy-dandy 1996 Webster’s Dictionary defines "Competition" as the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms b: active demand by two or more organisms or kinds of organisms for some environmental resource in short supply.

Ok, the last part is about science, so it automatically gets thrown out of the sport/not a sport discussion.

So, with that definition in mind, any "sport" that takes place where judging is involved is a competition. Cheerleading, band challenges, figure skating and gymnastics all rank as competitions, not sports in my opinion.

But there were two, for lack of a better word, "sports,&uot; that left some of us scratching our heads – the two being NASCAR and professional wrestling.

To truly figure out where these athletic venues stand, one must truly understand the psychology of each.

While both are vastly different in presentation rules and psychology, they do have some similarities and even momentarily do things that would qualify for the other’s show.

Just look at Kevin Harvick standing in the middle of the racetrack telling the other drivers they were No. 1 in his book, to me that sounds like the start of a best selling pay-per-view. But wait on the wrestling side of things, Stone Cold Steve Austin would drive different vehicles to the ring and I’m relatively sure that at one point he drove a racecar to the ring.

Both have well-known personalities.

NASCAR has Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and the famously retired Dick Trickle just to name a few.

Professional wrestling is known for its’ wild characters. In what other venue could you have guys named Junkyard Dog, Earthquake, the Blue Meanie, Axyl Rotten and the Hurricane?

They also are similar in the fact that they have their own unique announcers.

Former driver Darrell Waltrip starts each race with his trademarked "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity" and other various racing catchphrases spewed out through the course of the event.

On the wrestling side of things, in the now defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling, Joey Styles would utter his deadpan "OH MY GOD!&uot; as a wrestler was put through a table, thrown off a balcony or well wrapped in barbed wire. In World Wrestling Entertainment, "Good Ole’ J.R.,&uot; Jim Ross lets the at home audience know how hard a punch, or kick or a collision was by defining it as a "Slobberknocker.&uot;

Racing and wrestling also share storylines.

This weekend Mark Martin, who drives the Viagra car, looks to become the first person to three-peat at Dover International Speedway.

If he loses, he will join a list of challengers who also failed.

Also in the way of storylines, after Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip took turns rubbing fenders over the last few races, will their rivalry finally come to a head once the track gets race-able in New England?

The same thing happens in wrestling, at the end of the month, the WWE will hold their Vengeance Pay-Per-View. The main event is a Hell-in-the-Cell match-up between Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion Batista. Like Martin, this will be Batista’s test to see whether or not he can beat the former champ three times in a row. Batista defeated Triple H at Wrestlemania to win the title then again at Backlash to retain the strap. In the way of non-title feuds, Smackdown has former friends Rey Mysterio Jr., and Eddie Guerrero banging heads and on a collision course at their next pay-per-view.

While the two competitions run similar storylines, there is one striking difference – NASCAR for the most part is a real sport and professional wrestling is scripted. Sorry to burst any bubbles "sports" fans.

Now, don’t get me wrong and think that I’m some wrestling-hater, I’m not I’m a huge fan of it. But I have been backstage at pro-wrestling events. The workers script each match before hand and in the match, when you see them with their heads together, one of the participants is telling the other one what move is coming next.

While the athleticism is very, very real, but the simple fact remains, Wrestling is fake. Therefore it is disqualified as being a sport or a competition.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Griffin Pritchard is the sports editor of the Selma Times-Journal and can be reached by phone at 875-2110 or via email at .