Before heading to The Motorco in downtown Durham to check out the well-hyped G.O.U.G.E. Wrestling match, a perpetually grumpy friend of mine saw fit inform me that “wrestling isn’t real”. He would also maintain that since wrestling (although a different type) is no longer an Olympic event therefore “it’s not even a sport anymore”.
I arrived downtown unable to get the phrase “wrestling isn’t real” out of my mind. I walked into Motorco and could feel the electricity in the air. A kaleidoscope of light beamed though the rolling clouds produced by a smoke machine. The bar was packed, and the fandom was simply overwhelming. People of all ages and races sharing the dimly lit but spacious venue to watch the impending matches. A gladiatorial atmosphere washed over the bar turned coliseum as nearly a dozen G.O.U.G.E. combatants entered the ring for what was sure to be a chaotic free for all.
Suddenly the title of “not real” makes the aerobatic maneuvers of the wrestlers all the more impressive. The perfectly timed cartwheels, back flips, running, and jumping, all practiced and rehearsed over and over and over again. There may be multiple reasons to explain the devotion these fans have for wrestling. It may be the beer; or perhaps the energy of the crowd is all the intoxication you’d need. It could be the moment when you hear a child fan scream out “YOU CAN DO IT TIMMY!” as she tries to give reviving hope to the exhausted protagonist to save him from a high flying body slam.
If we’re going to try to figure out makes a sport real or even what makes a sport a sport. I would say that when you compete in a physical activity, you’ve found yourself in a sport. In terms of what sport is real? Well, my broad, all inclusive definition would cover when you find yourself emotionally invested in the outcome of two athletes going toe to toe— that must not only compete, but compete against their rival’s attempts to stop them. THAT, my grumpy friend, is real.