The recent heart attack of Jerry Lawler cast into the light a rather interesting problem in wrestling. Wrestling in many ways is a young man's sport. Given the number of wrestlers who have passed away when they were young, it is not one for longevity. It is also not a profession for a happy and stable life, with broken marriages, broken families, and in many cases broken bodies. Should there be an age where wrestlers have to hang it up?
The physical toil
of professional wrestling is one that causes people to break down
rather quickly. Jerry Lawler is one of the few people to live a
relatively clean lifestyle. Yet, there are many others who have lived
lifestyles that are less than clean. Not to mention, professional
wrestling allows grown men to relieve the glory days of high school
time and time again.
The most obvious
example would be Ric Flair. The sins of never ceasing to be Ric Flair
have caught up to him over the years. Four divorces and a lot of debt
later, the fact the Nature Boy had to climb into the ring at such an
advanced age really shows you something. Hulk Hogan is another one,
his body is busted and his personal problems took a toil on him. If
Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan did not become professional wrestlers, then
they may have lived a better lifestyle and made better choices. Or
they may have made the same choices.
It is a relief to
hear Jerry Lawler is on the mend, and hopefully he can return to the
commentary booth. While a return to the ring has not been ruled out
by Lawler's doctors, it should be something that the King should
strongly consider not doing. While it is easy to get caught up in the
moment when you hear the cheers of the fans, and a blessing to do
something you enjoy into an advanced age, there are times where one
must leave well enough alone.
To go back to the
original question, it is difficult to have a mandatory retirement age
in wrestling, because it is not really regulated. WWE might be
wrestling, but there are other options. There are stories of guys
toiling on the independent wrestling scene for years and years,
because they have to scrape by a living. However, wrestlers should be
better educated on the choices they make.
Getting them to
listen in the end might be a harder endeavor, and obviously it's not
just making bad choices. The roar of the crowd, just one more time in
the ring, can be more addictive than any drug. There will come a time
where one more time will become one last time.