Move Over WWE; Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o Rewrite Sports Entertainment
This week was a wild tide in the world of professional sports all together. LeBron James becomes the youngest player in NBA history to score 20,000 career points and the never ending conversation/debate between “Jordan-James” continues. However, the two biggest sports news stories of 2013 broke in the same week.
Lance Armstrong‘s interview with Oprah Winfrey on the OWN Network would premier where Lance would admit to using performance enhancing drugs in his cycling career. But what may be the biggest and juiciest story came from Deadspin.com reporting that Manti Te’o, linebacker for the Notre Dame Irish football program apparently lied about his “dead girlfriend” which played a major role in his already storied season with the Irish. During the season Te’o dealt with a tumultuous day where he dealt with the death of his grandmother and his “girlfriend” within the same 24 hours. Immediately he was embraced by the sports media and fans and the rally to back not only Te’o but The Notre Dame football team overall. This girlfriend hoax, run ins with the law and constant lies by athletes regarding PEDs has really taken pro sports to a different area now. An area of drama, an area of gossip, an area sort of tabloid like, and area of entertainment. Professional Sports has become the new WWE; sports entertainment.
For many years now, the WWE has been on the butt end of an endless amount of criticism and jokes regarding their product. Outside of the dedicated fan base, the WWE and pro wrestling in general receives very little praise and is disregarded as a “Male Soap Opera Circus”. While WWE doesn’t have any qualms about admitting their lineage with the sports entertainment world and in fact embraces it, lately we have been seeing pro sports dip into this area.
At one time, the Portland Trailblazers were known as the “Portland Trailblaze-Up” since many players on the team had an addiction to Marijuana. How can we ever forget the infamous story of the Adam “Pacman” Jones “making it rain” incident in Vegas. And what may have been the biggest sports story in the last decade, next to the MLB steroid scandal, the Tiger Woods incident. TMZ has gone from stalking celebrities on Hollywood Blvd to trying to catch buzz on certain sports players at training camps. The sports world has all the soap opera “he said-she said” drama that has ever been seen in Vince McMahon‘s world.
As wrestling fans, we are very much used to the the unsavory taste that is left in the public’s mouth when the topic of “wrestling” is mentioned. The public will lean heavy on its over the top dramatic conclusions and insane story-lines that seem to bring us to its end to tie things together. The public will be quick to point out various steroid scandals that pro wrestling endured once upon a time, but fail to recognize the rigorous wellness program that is enforced in the WWE. The public will be quick to point to the soap opera like drama, which never was “real” to begin with in the first place. Are we seeing a parallel here?
I’m not saying that pro sports should endure the same disrespect as pro wrestling, not at all. As a mega fan of both areas, I would never want to see that happen. But maybe the criticism can lighten up a bit on pro wrestling, considering the concentrated direction that WWE has put itself on, so they can differentiate themselves just to try to gain respect. I feel its well deserved and the hypocrisy should finally cease.
Maurice D. Proffit is a Writer for Rant Sports