Saturday, March 26, 2011

Courage, Hustle and Respect?

After watching the wrestling video packages this past week, and often laughing at the ridiculous antics of professional wrestlers. I was prompted to meditate on the relationships between sport, courage, victory and honor. Buried somewhere deep in our social consciousness, we hearken to the images of Greek Olympians or of Myron’s Discbolus, or Lysippos' Apoxyomenos; where we elevated sport to something almost divine. They depict athletes as pseudo-divine beings, not only representing the peak condition of the human body, but also the epitome the ideals associated and represented by sport, such as fairness and determination.

In a way, professional wrestling makes reference to this. Not only do professional wrestlers have bodies that represent a level of fitness nearly as high as humanly achievable, but the "good" characters, also known as faces do indeed embody the their ability to live up to lofty moral and ethical standards, echoing John Cena's continual reminders that "courage, hustle and respect" should be held in the highest esteem. On the other hand, as seen in the video of Randy Savage's first fight, "heels" who embody the antithesis of faces and their ideals live up to completely different standards. Opponents are not respected, fights are cowardly, and cheap shots are taken at every opportunity.

This immediately called to mind the antics of professional soccer players today. In the past 10 years, the game has evolved so that players hit the ground even with the slightest touch from the defenders. And perhaps even when the injury was inflicted on the legs, players have a tendency to clutch their faces in an attempt to sell the injury to the referee.
Not only does this make for frustrating stoppages in play where they're unneeded, it also desensitizes officials to actual fouls, endangering the integrity of the game. As an avid soccer fan myself, I find much of this behavior baffling and restating, and deleterious to the quality of the game. While it’s clear that players are simply doing all that they can to win the game, the question is where should we draw the line? If it’s true today as it was in the past-athletes are role models, shouldn't they also be help up to more rigorous moral and ethical jurisdictions?


  1. Every time I watch a soccer player hit the ground in some dramatic fashion it makes me chuckle and when the camera catches the sometimes extreme delayed reaction it is even more comical. Athletes have been a role model for youths for quite some time. I will admit I admire athletes like Michael Jordan ever since I was first able to comprehend basketball. Even though the antics and flops do get annoying, it is to their strategic advantage to do so since referees can call a game or match either way. Therefore I am not sure if I am more disappointed in the athletes or in the referees and commissioners that judge and define the rules; effectively promoting such activity.

  2. I think one factor contributing to the fact that soccer is not as popular in the United States compared to other countries is because of antics like this. This sort of thing would be completely unheard of it a football game, where players undergo 1000x more punishment and pick themselves right up after the end of every play. The players revel in the violence in football whereas in soccer the players have zero tolerance for it and cartoonishly exaggerate and fake it.

  3. What I want to know is if the avid soccer fans are fed up with this kind of behavior. I know that Americans always complain when they see a basketball player flop so I can only imagine that soccer fans in Europe feel the same way about soccer flops. But this paradigm persists due to the inability of officials and commissioners to address the problems.
    Although, Im not sure if I think we, as a society, should basically require athletes to be role models. It would of course be nice if they were role models for our kids but we cant really expect them to be all we want them to be.


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