Professional Wrestling Effect

5665 Words23 Pages
Submitted by: Matthew J. Bernthal
This study investigates the effects of professional wrestling on children. Elementary and middle school teachers (n = 370) were surveyed and asked to indicate 1) the popularity of professional wrestling among their students; 2) any “preconceived notions” they hold of students who are fans of professional wrestling; 3) their beliefs regarding the harmfulness of professional wrestling; and 4) the extent and specific nature of verbal and behavioral imitation attributable to professional wrestling observed in their students. Survey results combined with prior literature and research on marketing ethics raise questions about the appropriateness of professional wrestling as sport-entertainment for children.
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It is broadcast in 12 languages to over 130 countries, is viewed by 34 million people in the United States, and generates industry revenues above $1 billion annually. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the industry leader in virtually every statistic (e.g., television ratings, live event attendance, licensing revenue). Attendance at WWE events rose from 1.1 million people in 1997 to 2.5 million for the year 2000 (, n.d.). While live event attendance has fallen a bit in the past two years, the WWE still drew 2 million attendees in 2002 (, n.d. a). WWE’s flagship television show, Raw, on TNN, is consistently the top-rated regularly scheduled cable television program, and the company’s other core show,SmackDown, on UPN, is consistently one of the highest ranked sports programs (as categorized by Nielsen) on network television. The shows have drawn combined weekly Nielsen ratings of 6-12 over the last two years (, n.d.). Other, more mainstream sports are losing coveted young viewers to the WWE. For example, in the 12-17 age group, 143% more males (and 73% of males and females combined) watched the WWE’s Monday night Raw than the 1999 NBA finals. Further, the WWE continually outperforms a number of professional sporting events, in key demographics:…show more content…
Two of these tests directly apply to the current issue. The “consequences test” asks, “Is it likely that any major damages to people or organizations will result from the contemplated action?” The “justice test” asks, “Does the proposed action leave another person or group less well off?” as well as “Is this person or group already a member of a relatively underprivileged class?” If underprivileged class is taken to mean vulnerable class/market segment, which would reflect the spirit and intent of the justice test, it could be argued that the professional wrestling industry performs questionably on both tests.
Raw beats the NBA finals in the ratings. (1999, June 24). BW SportsWire. Retrieved June 24, 1999, from
Bates, J. E., Bayles, K., Bennet, D. S., Ridge, B., & Brown, M. M. (1991). Origins of externalizing behavior problems at eight years of age. In D. J. Pepler & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), The Development and Treatment of Childhood Aggression (pp. 5-54). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Clary, M. (2001, January 26). Wrestling defense fails: Boy, 13 faces life. Los Angeles Times, pp. A1.
Davis, J. (1999, September 3). Did wrestling video spark kid to kill? Atlanta Journal-Constitution,pp.

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