Steroids, Pro Wrestling, Pacman, Madonna and Congress
Breaking news! Pro wrestlers use steroids. I think that’s kind of like saying the North Pole is cold…. Tony Dungy was a legendary coach… or Pacman Jones is a tomfool. Everyone knows pro wrestlers use steroids. I use the term “pro wrestling” quite begrudgingly. While they may be pro when compared to some of the backyard antics you’ll find on YouTube, (Check it out here… here… or here. If you made it through that last one you must not have anything valuable to do today.) Rulon Gardner they certainly are not.
So what does all of this nonsense have to do with law? …or sports for that matter?! Well, according to this AP article on SI.com Congress has been investigating the steroid testing and enforcement policies of pro wrestling’s two major sanctioning organizations, WWE and TNA, for the past year or so. Unlike baseball, football, basketball, track & field, etc., there is no argument that the legitimacy of the sport must be protected by maintaining a level playing field. Pro wrestling is not a legitimate sport; it’s a carefully crafted drama, that apparently is quite entertaining to adolescent and college age males. I’ve never understood the appeal, but that’s neither here nor there.
So why is Congress interested in their steroid testing policy? Well for one, steroids are illegal; but just being illegal wouldn’t necessarily be a reason for Congress to get involved. Afterall, it is not within the authority of our Congress to enforce laws. We have judicial and law enforcement personnel to handle that. I would contend that the real reason they’re involved is self-interest. Follow me on this one; I’m not going where you think I am. Steroids in sports is a hot topic and most sports leagues are now doing a pretty decent job of self-regulating by testing their athletes and suspending violators. However, pro wrestling, while not a sport, is an athletic entertainment property with a relatively high public profile. They also had a lax steroid testing policy, which the unfortunate, but very public, murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and family brought into the public’s view. Thus, any politician worth his salt can see that attacking WWE and TNA’s drug testing policies is a no-brainer. By riding the coattails of Congressional investigations into baseball, football and other sports, they can publicize how they are doing their part to eliminate steroids and protect the public; particularly youths who are the primary consumer of pro wrestling. I can already hear the ballot boxes filling up!…
Sure, this is a bit of a jaded view, but why shouldn’t it be? Pro wrestling and steroids are like Madonna and Guy Ritchie; everyone knows about the latter, but no one really talks about it… Steroids have been around pro wrestling forever, but it took several tragic deaths and high profile scandals in other sports to bring the issue to the forefront. Why is this? Pro wrestling’s drug testing policy is a minor issue, but is a perfect example of the reactionary nature of our government. In our personal lives there is a lot of talk about being proactive and having a plan for the future (heck, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of books on the subject). When it comes to Congress…. ehhh, not so much. I say let the courts and law enforcement personnel deal with steroids in pro wrestling; afterall, there are already laws to deal with it. Congress just needs to stop playing police officer and focus on our future.
Agree, disagree, or think my writing stinks? Let me hear about it.
Matt Breeden (SportsLawGuru.com) is an internationally respected business advisor and attorney based in Indianapolis, IN. His practice is focused on Sports & Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Commercial and Corporate Law. He represents Sports & Entertainment properties, as well as many other businesses, in a variety of matters, including: Broadcast & Digital Media Agreements, Licensing Agreements, Sponsorship Agreements, Commercial Agreements, Athlete/Driver Contracts, Insurance & Risk Management, Employment Agreements, Litigation Management, Mergers & Acquisitions, Business Formation and Corporate Governance.