Ric Flair, Ray Lewis, Ol’ Roy…. Santa Claus

January24/ 2013

In the late 70s one of my favorite past times was watching Pro Wrestling….. Dusty Rhodes “The American Deam” – a young Ric Flair – The Von Erichs – etc.  Meanwhile my mom loved “her soaps”.  Now I devour crime/action fiction audio books….. and being entertained by TV sports.  What’s the connection here ?? …..

Did I know that Pro Wrestling was choreographed with pre-determined outcomes?  Duh…. yeah.   I figured that out back in the early 60s when I first began watching it with Argentina Rocca and Gorgeous George et al.   About the same time I figured out that Santa Claus was “a delightful Wrestlistate-of-mind” that also entertained me with no apparent damage to my psyche.

The fake blood and distracted referees and conniving “managers” and contrived feuds were all “part of the show” and I loved it.  Was it always choreographed to bring you back next time or get you to come out to the local armory for “a live show” – sure…. and it did just that.

Did my mom realize that her “soaps” were exaggerated social-drama involving air-brushed beautiful people forever entangled in over-the-top ethical dilemmas?  She and I never actually had that conversation…. nor the one about Santa Claus.   She cheered on the dashing heroes and ingénues while gnashing her teeth as the Snidley Whiplash villains double-crossed and dirty-dealed the good citizens of mythical Springfield or Salem or Pine Valley.   Bless her hearts she knew that every Friday’s episode would end in a cliff-hanger.   For the record, my mom never questioned the authenticity of the moon landing.

My audiobooks all have pre-determined outcomes.  I could simply jump ahead to the final 10 minutes if “who done it” was all I wanted to know.   After becoming familiar with an author I can anticipate the plot twists that his characters will be subjected to at various points in the narrative.  The more I get to know characters in a series, the more I look forward to their next adventure be it Dirk Pitt, Joe Pickett, Jack Reacher, Dave Robicheau, Lucas Davenport, Elvis Cole, or John Corey.  Occasionally the better authors will throw a curve ball and have a sidekick killed off or bring in a super villain that almost gets the best of the hero…… aka “this may be his greatest challenge EVER….”.

Every Bond movie is predictable….. every Bond is a suave rogue – the beautiful women – exotic locales – car chases – hollowed-out volcano HQ for the super-villain – 007 is captured – 007 escapes – 007 prevails ….. HOORAY!  I’ve seen him do it again/again over 40 years.

OK…. so what my point?   Who say every column has to have “a point”?  It so happens this one does.

If audiences can totally enjoy all the above with their pre-determined outcomes…..

Why does the authenticity of any sports event matter?

OK, lets deal with the “sports betting” issue first.   Other than a couple of March Madness bracket pools a few years ago, I have never “bet” on a sports event… or ever bought a lottery ticket.  No, it’s not a religious or moral “thing” with me.  I have played the slots in Vegas.  Sports betting is just something I’m not “in to”.   Like some of you are about audiobooks, Brunswick stew or watching Justified or Suits or Nashville.  …… so, eliminate, for this discussion, “because there is lots of money bet on the outcome” as a reason that sports events need to be legitimate.

If sports event (college or pro) were choreographed like pro wrestling, soap operas, fiction novels, movies or Santa Claus….. without the betting issue….. I would still enjoy them since I enjoy these other “pre-determined” entertainment options.

Wait a minute BobLee. Isn’t that already the case?  There is a species of sports fan – known around these parts as “State fans” – who have been convinced for years that every time their team is defeated it was pre-determined by the eeeeevil John Swofford.   Johnny Swofford – Vince McMahon – Jim Crockett ….. all the same.

Is Jim Knight, Karl Hess, Ted Valentine et al any different from the wresting ref that is “distracted” and doesn’t see that no-count Homer O’Dell hit Johnny Weaver with his cane…. or doesn’t see Gorgeous George pull Lou Thesz’ trunks….. “COME ON REF, HOW CAN YOU MISS THAT?….. YOU BUM!”

I think I read those very words after this week’s State v Wake game in fact.   FWIW…. I doubt any Duke fan “blamed the refs” for last night’s butt-whuppin’ in Miami.

Why isn’t Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) in prison for all the skullduggery she has pulled on her 6-7 unsuspecting husbands….. or UNC in “Death Penalty” for all its felonious behavior?

So Lance Armstrong was “on the juice” or Mark McGwire and Sammie Sosa were ‘roided up.   How did that distract from the excitement of the moment of the event.

But BobLee, it wasn’t authentic?   “Authentic” ???  Why do I care about “authentic”.  Blondie is always noting that such-such actress “has had work done”.  So…. why does that matter?  Really.

The recent Broncos v Ravens game was a humdinger because of that last minute long bomb pass by the Ravens.   If that was pre-arranged….. so?   If the pitch Dave Frieze hit in Game Six of the 2011 World Series was “grooved” and he knew it was coming….. so?   Was there no way TA McLendon was going to score from the one that night in Kenan?  Would anyone remember the game if he had?

I maintain that if the sole purpose is to entertain viewers / spectators then choreographing exciting final outcomes is quite OK.   James Bond needs to defy death in the final ten minutes before triumphing.

Now… if the sole purpose is to provide some weird vicarious sense of reflected glory to those spectators unaccustomed to “winning” in real life that’s a whole ‘nother matter.  I’m not in to that.

What about “young people” learning the valuable lessons of athletic competition?  Yawn.  Thats why God invented intra-murals.

For me “it’s all a show” regardless of “scoreboard”.   If that buzzer-beater doesn’t beat the buzzer or that Ravens’ pass is incomplete…. it’s not as memorable an experience for my time and/or money.   For the record…. I would feel this way even if Bob Kennell was ACC Commissioner instead of Swofford. ….. let THAT thought sink in for a few moments !!!!

I betcha a lot of you are appalled at this suggestion.  It strikes at your holiest of holies – the supposed all-mighty sanctity of sport.  “All mighty sanctity” ??? where you are already convinced “every school cheats”…. but the one you pull for.  Right?

(Huuumm…. maybe AgentPierce should do his version of this concept.  Does the sanctity of election results really matter? Are elections just high drama “entertainment” too?).  BTW…. AP has a coupla lulus just up on the Home Page.


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