Sunday, July 01, 2007

Chris Benoit and Unions

Writing about Benoit and the future of wrestling last week, I said that it wouldn't surprise me if this was the end of the line for the WWE, the McMahon family, or maybe even pro wrestling as we know it. Here's a piece I wrote making the case for the necessity of a pro wrestler's union.

I know, it sounds crazy. But have a look at this outstanding USA Today piece. Between 1997 and 2004, USA Today found that:

about 1,000 wrestlers 45 and younger have worked on pro wrestling circuits worldwide, wrestling officials estimate.

USA TODAY's examination of medical documents, autopsies and police reports, along with interviews with family members and news accounts, shows that at least 65 wrestlers died in that time . . .

Wrestlers have death rates about seven times higher than the general U.S. population, says Keith Pinckard, a medical examiner in Dallas who has followed wrestling fatalities. They are 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than other Americans 25 to 44, he adds. And USA TODAY research shows that wrestlers are about 20 times more likely to die before 45 than are pro football players, another profession that's exceptionally hard on the body.


I suspect that if the NHL, NBA, or NFL had death rates like that, Congress would shut them down in a blink. But if pro wrestling is protected from such scrutiny precisely because it isn't a sport, then the least they can do is have a union to improve working conditions and protect the wrestlers. Even Broadway actors have Equity.

1 comment:

mitch stein said...

As an owner of a small wrestling federation comprised of independant pro wrestlers (locowrestling.com) I can tell you that with the huge expenses already facing the owners of the feds an added expense of a "union" with union dues would shut down 90% of the feds and place almost all the independant wrestlers out of business.

A union might work for a media giant like the WWE and MYABE TNA could flip the extra expenses, but us little guys would simply fold which would eliminate the training grounds for the would be wrestlers.

Let give you a clue of how this would effect financials for a federation.

Talent costs $1500.00 avg. per show, Insurance costs $1300.00 per show, technical (lighting, sound systems, video camera men, editing and producing video, etc.) cost $2,000 per show. Then there are building expenses, such as building insurance $500.00 per show, rent $500 - $1000 per show.

These are the basics you also at least in PA have to have a promoter who pays $300 per year for his license and $2400+ for his promoters insurance.

By the time you get done adding the cost, upkeep setup, tear down of equipment such as chairs, stands, ring, entranceway etc, you've added another $750.00

We spend all this (approx $5000 to $6000) for a live show, that brings in 250 - 750 people paying a measly $10 a ticket. Most shows we already lose money, add another $1000 for unions fees and expenses and you'll put more of us out of business, which is not good for the wrestler that needs the live shows for exposer to get to the big games such as the WWE or for the promoters who cough up the upfront cash and take all the financial risk to begin with.