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Contrariety within the worlds of sports

Every kid growing up would have at some point in time acquainted themselves with the ‘make-believe’ world that is professional wrestling. Whether it be through the medium of television, conversation or performing the newest finishing maneuver accompanied by subliminal thoughts of the “please do not try this at home” advertisement. It goes without saying that wrestling has embodied us all in our lives at a moment in time.

The wrestling showcase event known to all as Wrestlemania is a worldwide phenomenon. Broadcasted throughout the world, millions have been, and will continue to be, captivated by WWE’s flagship event. Michael Cole put it best upon the opening of Wrestlemania XXX:

“For the better part of four decades, we have been wowed by the magnificence, we have been awed by the athleticism, we’ve been stunned by the surprises of the greatest live event in entertainment. This is Wrestlemania”. The sheer competence of Cole’s description emphasises both the emotional attachment of the company’s fans, not to mention the aura surrounding the acclaimed “showcase of the immortals”

-Michael Cole, WWE lead announcer.

WWE always pride themselves on being a “sports entertainment” company. In other words, the result of a wrestling match is predetermined, yet wrestlers must still perform the traditional art-form in order to entertain the viewers. This can be executed through many different skills like camera work, taunting the crowd, facial expressions, the list goes on. This creates a cultural tradition within the WWE – Intermingled into a wrestlers’ various responsibilities is the know-how of dealing with the distinct line between: Entertainment and “Working.”

However, nowadays there seems to be an alarming amount of inconsistencies occurring in the world of “sport” with regard to this line. Inconsistencies that debunk the theory that suggests that all sports people in a professional environment are consummate professionals. Inconsistencies that, for the most part, do the athletes themselves no justice. Evidence of these inconsistencies can be found in both “professional” boxing and “professional” football.

With the imminent return of David Haye to the world of boxing, speculation of a big fight was widespread, particularly with the relinquishment of the heavyweight titles by Tyson Fury. That big bout has come in the shape of Tony Bellew, with the fight scheduled for March 4th 2017.

The traditional method of a press conference was agreed upon by both fighters’ camps. November 30th was the date. Both Haye and Bellew appeared cool, calm and collected. That was, until the “trash talk” commenced. Haye instantly set out on a tirade against Eddie Hearn (the promoter of the fight). He then continued relentlessly in his dictation, eventually coming to a standstill as he claimed that he could show up “drunk out of my head, and you’ll get knocked out,” epitomising his negative attitude to both the fight and his opponent.

With regard to a professional football environment, the duty of the fans to facilitate the tone of a football match is equally as important as the behaviour of the players and management on the pitch. An example of this can be seen with “The Return” (Sky Sports marketing) of José Mourinho to Stamford Bridge as manager of Manchester United.

Sour grapes were served to Mourinho as Chelsea ran out winners on a scoreline of 4-0. Chants of “You’re not special anymore” I’m sure proved discouraging to the self-proclaimed special one, yet in the subsequent interviews proceeding the match, he was not deterred in the slightest. “We made incredible defensive mistakes,” Mourinho said, “And then you pay for that”. Underlining his admirable accountability for his side’s defensive frailties.

Thus, it can be said with some certainty that the difference between Entertainment and Working is of a profound nature. If we ignore this reality, the problem itself can only progress, not digress. It is far too easy to become smug and self-satisfied.