SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
I wrote an editorial earlier this week in the new Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter (#1674, cover-dated June 23) that in recent weeks I’ve grown more uncomfortable watching the increasingly cavalier attitude toward the risk of COVID-19 spreading, something reflected in society which has led to alarming spikes across the country, reversing progress made prior during this first wave of our pandemic. (6/22 Washington Post: State and city leaders in U.S. respond to coronavirus surge with new rules, dire warnings)
As society acts more like the crisis is behind us despite all reliable science indicating otherwise, the risk is greater for wrestlers who travel around the country and then gather every week or two for TV events. There is no need for as much interaction with so many wrestlers, a lack of social distancing, and an absence of masks at these events. What once felt like shows run with minimal risks to put on a show has begun to look like a group of reckless performers disregarding all prudent advice by experts to make life look normal again when we’re far from that. In the early months, wrestlers were likely largely isolating themselves or having minimal contact with a few people who were also largely isolating themselves.
The risk is exponentially greater for everyone when an increasing number of wrestlers and staff are living life out in and about in public, some without masks and around people who are not wearing masks, who are also spending the rest of their week around people disregarding prudent safety precautions, and then gathering with each other and mixing as if it’s a cocktail party in 2019. If they’re going to run wrestling shows, it’s time to social space everyone all the time except for the match in the ring, have referees wear masks, keep announcers apart from each other, stop having in-person interviews with a microphone holder, and keep audience members away from wrestlers. And for the love of God, stop having wrestlers coming to the ring get in the face of poor Michael Cole every week.
AEW and WWE should be testing every single person on-site at TV events. Not just taking temperatures, as people can walk around spreading COVID-19 who are presymtomatic or asymptomatic. Wrestling promoters need to bring experts into the locker room and explain in detail to everyone the great responsibility they have as currently the only live ongoing entertainment in this country, to isolate themselves more strictly than the average person during their time away from traveling to and participating in these events.
Florida is one of the worst-case scenarios in terms of the surge due to officials taking the pandemic lightly and not listening to expert recommendations. As a result, it’s one of the most dangerous places in the country, and it happens to be where wrestlers from all over the country are congregating weekly to put on live wrestling events, then traveling back to their home states and perhaps acting as super-spreaders. Today’s editorial in the Orlando Sentinel headline readers “Coronavirus reopening will continue to be a bust until everyone gets serious | Editorial.” Excerpt:
“There were 10,500 new cases last week, by far the largest jump since the pandemic began. Florida set a new record Wednesday, adding more than 5,500 positive cases. The rates of infection are way up, too.
Most are younger people and the death rate hasn’t increased. That’s the good news.
The bad news is the new cases become carriers that can infect the vulnerable. And no matter how alarming the numbers are, a lot of people won’t react as needed.
We could start, as usual, with DeSantis. He no doubt takes the pandemic seriously in his heart, but he’s still soft-pedaling the crisis in public.”
If pro wrestling wants to continue to operate during this pandemic, everyone involved in every facet of their life at events and in between events, must act at the highest level of responsibility to decrease a risk involved. If not, it’s going to take just one or two cavalier acts to topple the house of cards that in the early stages kept everyone as safe as possible.