Lawson: WWE has right to be a part of ESPN


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Columnist Lawson argues that WWE should be considered a sport and broadcast on ESPN.

Angelica Lawson

Two types of wrestling exist — take him down for two counts kind of wrestling and the Big Show, The Rock and John Cena kind of wrestling. ESPN recently announced a weekly highlight about the WWE shows that will be added to the network, and some viewers are resentful.

Professional wrestling is an international phenomena. The brand that sits alone atop the professional wrestling industry in the United States is WWE, which used to stand for World Wrestling Entertainment. Vince McMahon, founder of WWE, announced in 2011 that WWE would no longer stand for World Wrestling Entertainment, and would only be known as WWE.

Although WWE no longer has a meaning, aspects of it that have not changed are the men and women who are responsible for entertaining audiences while working hard to stay fit. They have to intertwine wrestling, entertainment and fitness.

ESPN announced on SportsCenter that it will partner with WWE. Many people don’t like this union because they don’t think the stars of WWE are real athletes and deny that professional wrestling is a real sport.

According to Merriam-Webster, an athlete is defined as “a person who is trained in or good at sports, games or exercises that require physical skill and strength.” The stars of WWE fall under this definition. They have vigorous workouts, and they exhibit their strength on a regular basis. 

People argue that professional wrestling is fake and that the men and women who are employed by the WWE are nothing but actors. If you pay any attention to the WWE, you already know it’s scripted, and the show is open about that.

But you cannot deny that these men and women are athletes. They are physically fit and they have earned their highlights to run on ESPN. The people who are against the newly forged partnership between ESPN and WWE vary in their beliefs as to why this goes against what ESPN is supposed to stand for.

On one hand, you have Michael Bradley of the National Sports Journalism Center opposing coverage of WWE on ESPN. In his story, “Let’s hope media outlets remember what “E” in WWE means,” he address his concerns about the entertainment aspects of WWE and how it does not provide truthfulness — it includes scripted drama and past winners have been predetermined. This infringed upon the credibility of WWE and ESPN.

The title of his story is troubling, however, because the Es on ESPN and WWE  both stand for the same thing: Entertainment. ESPN has captured the market on sports infotainment, and WWE is one of the most successful entertainment companies around.

On the other hand, you have What Culture’s John Canton of Canada writing about the ESPN and WWE partnership. He doesn’t think this form of wrestling is a real sport, so why would ESPN cover it like a real sport.

Whether you believe WWE wrestling is a real sport you cannot deny the WWE athletes have the right to be showcased on the network.

An outcry from some people claims WWE wrestlers aren’t athletes because their sport is not competitive and they do not have to face the same obstacles as “real” athletes.

You don’t become the face of an entire company by accident and you don’t magically pick up another human your weight or larger without hard work and dedication. The men and women who wrestle for WWE have every right to be on ESPN.

You can dislike the industry, but saying WWE wrestlers aren’t real athletes because you don’t like the storyline or you don’t see the competition aspects is not enough to count them out of the athletic world. 

Robin Quivers wrote in her Huffington Post blog post “What Makes an Athlete” about what it was like when she realized she was an athlete because of her marathon experience. It’s about training — building strength and stamina — and then performing. That’s what makes athletes who they are.