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?