AS I SEE IT - 11/17/2003:
Well, let's see...
by: Bob Magee After last week's column I heard everything from applause to being called a "smut peddler", for daring to suggest that wrestlers might be responsible for their own actions...that wrestling promotions (especially WWE) were responsible for governing their talent...and that State Athletic Commissions had to act, since the wrestlers and promotions seem incapable of acting to stop the epidemic of deaths within wrestling from painkillers, growth enhancing drugs, and other substance abuse.
I didn't earn applause. Nor did I deserve being called a "smut peddler".
Unfortunately, all I did was state the obvious: that drugs are killing far too many within wrestling, and that something needs to be done about it. I was called a "smut peddler" for somehow damning the name of Michael Lockwood just after his death...and because I suggested that Vince McMahon wasn't doing anything about it. I was therefore accused of taking an unnecessary cheap shot at Vince McMahon.
Let's try dealing in reality here...
It's pretty apparent that Michael Lockwood's death has saddened many people. His friends out in California eloquently talked about their feelings for their friend...and how much they'll miss him. Stevie Richards remembered his friend at house shows this past week, coming out to Lockwood's "Crash Holly" music and broke down in the ring after the matches.
If only Vince McMahon had the decency that Richards showed this week...or the decency that TNA showed.
Even when airing a match between Rico and Stevie Richards on the international version of Heat, WWE made no mention mention of Crash' death, while showing on video Stevie Richards's memorial to Lockwood, by coming out to Holly's music and doing all the old Crash mannerisms... and even after a sign in the crowd read "R.I.P Crash"....WWE couldn't be bothered to mention anything about their former employee.
TNA, on the other hand, remembered Lockwood this past week with an opening graphic, and individual wrestlers remembered him in their own way, including Raven with "Crash" painted across his stomach, and others with black armbands.
But Michael Lockwood is dead...because he refused to acknowledge a problem with painkillers and alcohol...and all those people who loved will be deprived of his loyalty and commitment, all because he didn't get clean. All reports suggest that he had very real real-life marital problems that caused him to use the drugs and alcohol to mask his pain...but it's those drugs and alcohol that very likely caused his death.
There's no "nice way" to say it. Michael Lockwood died because of their use...and he likely won't be the last.
There's also no "nice way" to say that the pressure to look a certain way in WWE plays a role in those wrestlers feeling the need to suddenly add more pounds and muscle mass...and that's there one basic quick way to get it...and a job in WWE. Yes, there are ways to get bigger or more cut without steroids...but not as big and not as fast.
And as we've seen...widespread steroid use has now been confirmed within Major League Baseball, along with new designer steroids throughout track and field. So it's reasonable to suggest that they'll find their way to the top echelons of professional wrestling, too, and that more wrestlers will pay for their use with their lives.
So who's in a position to demand that drug testing and counseling be done?
State Athletic Commissions.
State Athletic Commissions...those people who, in too many states, spend more time telling promoters what they can't do including drafting clearly discriminatory laws against certain promotions (and/or excusing those promotions with a sizable enough bankroll from the very same restrictions)...who take 5-10% of the gate of a show...without doing anything useful for the business they're supposed to be governing. But with the sanctioning power of a State agency...in a carefully selected list of states...ones that Vince McMahon can't avoid, like New York, Maryland, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Michigan...they do have the power to make some sort of difference.
If you agree with me (or even if you don't) that these Commissions will have to be the ones that implement any form of drug testing and counseling..here is a partial list of contacts for these Commissions.
Tell them what you think.
State Athletic Commission
c/o Dept of Revenue
50 N Ripley St, Room 4121
Montgomery Alabama 36132
Phone: (334) 242-1380
New York State:
New York State Department of State/New York State Athletic Commission
123 William Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Telephone: (212) 417-5700
Fax: (212) 417-4987
Maryland State Athletic Commission
State Athletic Control Board
PO Box 180 /CN - 180
Trenton, NJ 08625-0180
Telephone: (609) 292-3017
Fax: (609) 292-3756
Wrestling is governed by two different agencies, under the State Department of Professional Regulation, located at:
320 W. Washington
Springfield, Illinois 62786
Phone: (217) 785-0800
TDD: (217) 514-6735
Fax: (217) 782-7645
Send your requests for information in care of either of the following individuals:
* Jeffrey N. Dooley, Chairperson, Board of Athletic Trainers This board licenses wrestling promoters.
* Phillip P. Siegel, Chairperson, Professional Boxing and Wrestling Board This board is responsible for the overall supervision of professional wrestling.
Nevada Athletic Commission
555 E. Washington Avenue, Suite 1500
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
Telephone: (702) 486-2575
Facsimile: (702) 486-2577
State Athletic Commission
116 Pine Street - Third Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Telephone: (717) 787-5720
Fax: (717) 772-1892
Athletic Commission of Ohio
Union Square Plaza
2545 Belmont Avenue
Youngstown, Ohio 44505
Telephone: (330) 742-5120
Fax: (330) 742-2571
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
920 Colorado/P.O. Box 12157
Austin, Texas 78711-2157
Athletic Commission phone numbers
Telephone: (512) 475-2875
Fax: (512) 475-2872
Louisiana State Athletic Commission
Telephone: (504) 568-8060
Fax: (504) 632-5560
Massachusetts State Athletic Commission
Telephone:(617) 727-3297 EXT#657
Fax: (617) 727-5732
Athletic Board of Control
Telephone: (517) 373-3105/(517) 241-9246
Fax: (517) 373-2795
Telephone: (919) 733-3924
Fax: (919) 821-0818
Telephone: (615) 741-2384
Fax: (615) 741-6470
Commonwealth of Virginia
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
3600 West Broad Street
Post Office Box 11066
Richmond, VA 23230-1066
Phone: (804) 367-0186
Thus, you have telephone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses and so forth for any of you reading who live in the above states. As a taxpayer, a voter, and a wrestling fan, contact these Departments/ Commissions/Boards and ask them if the revenue that they collect from professional wrestling is worth the death of one more wrestler; because they refuse to force the touring wrestling companies that operate in their states refuse to require random universal drug testing, and to provide employee assistance programs in order to deal with the rampant drug use plaguing the wrestling industry.
I'd be curious to hear what answers, if any, you receive from them.
Until next time...
If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)