Archive for March 14th, 2011

Connecticut Newspaper Reports Muchnick’s Call to Senator Blumenthal on Concussions

[NOTE: The follow-up item on this blog about Dr. Robert Cantu and the Xenith helmet company, scheduled for today, has been postponed. It should be posted tomorrow.]

Reporter Don Michak of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut, today wrote a story headlined “WWE Critic: Blumenthal should repay supporters with involvement in sports concussion controversy.”

The full text of the article, at http://www.journalinquirer.com/articles/2011/03/14/politics_and_government/doc4d7e139052d69548402911.txt, is available to subscribers only. I have put in a request for permission to post the full text at this blog. In the meantime, a few highlights:

* “Irvin Muchnick, an author and blogger from California whose sharp criticism of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. figured in the Connecticut Democrat’s successful [Senate] campaign against the WWE’s former chief executive, Republican Linda McMahon, last week urged the former attorney general to use his new job to help resolve ‘the national concussion crisis.’ Muchnick explained that two other Democrats, Reps. Henry Waxman of California and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, had asked a House subcommittee to hold hearings on football helmet safety, but that he wasn’t optimistic about the prospects for such an initiative in the Republican-controlled House.”

*  “Muchnick also argued that any hearings should be broad enough to raise questions about the ‘global problem’ of concussions in all contact sports, including the wrestling sponsored by the Stamford-based WWE. ‘Concussions in sports are mixed up in the whole cocktail of steroid and painkiller abuse as well as the whole subject of regulation of the profitable and influential’ professional wrestling business.”

* The article cites the support last year to the Blumenthal Senate campaign provided by Michael Benoit, the father of Chris Benoit, and Don Hooton, head of the Taylor Hooton Foundation, a steroid-awareness group.

 

Irv Muchnick

Linda McMahon’s Scarecrow 2012 Senate Campaign

In the previous post I pointed everyone to Brian Lockhart’s excellent story today for Hearst about the prospects of pro wrestling regulation in the Connecticut legislature.

A more immediate angle, as yet unexplored in state media, is the status of the Labor Department’s audit of World Wrestling Entertainment, begun last year, under a tougher law banning misclassification of regular employees as independent contractors. This is an enormously important occupational health and safety issue, as well as a money issue for one of Connecticut’s preeminent corporations.

Because everything affects everything else, it’s also where I think we all could use some more sophisticated commentary on Linda McMahon’s  presumed upcoming second attempt to win a U.S. Senate seat. The consensus feeling is that a Linda 2012 candidacy is a lead-pipe cinch, that her current tease is just a combination of political theater, calibration of her exposure, and conservation of her sexagenarian energy and campaign war chest.

I, personally, am not so sure. I think Linda knows she can’t win and her husband Vince knows she can’t win. More importantly, the shareholders of their publicly traded company know that the fallout of her futile $50 million campaign in 2010 against Richard Blumenthal included the Labor Department investigation and the renewed buzz about both legalizing a key pro wrestling industry demographic competitor, mixed martial arts, and re-regulating wrestling itself. In other words, the price tag of the McMahon family’s vanity has bumped up against its limits.

But even if Linda isn’t running again, the best counterweight to this redoubled scrutiny of WWE is for her to keep ’em guessing about her future electoral intentions. WWE has no meritorious arguments against regulation. It has only its omnipresent threat to rev up its large, though ultimately politically insubstantial, fan base, and turn everything it touches and everything that touches it into a circus. Including the question of what interest the government might have in curtailing the phenomenon of industrial death in junk entertainment.

Keep in mind that a leading Connecticut politico with whom I rehearsed these thoughts scoffed at them. Also keep in mind that insiders from the state that unleashed Vince McMahon on American culture and Linda McMahon on national politics don’t necessarily have the last and smartest word.

 

Irv Muchnick

WWE Faces Home-State Regulation Heat

Lawmakers wonder why wrestling isn’t regulated like mixed martial arts

Brian Lockhart / Hearst newspapers

One is considered a sport, the other scripted entertainment.

But an effort to regulate mixed martial arts competitions in Connecticut has some state lawmakers wondering why they are not also requiring more oversight of professional wrestling, an industry dominated for years by Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment.

“I know some people do want to look at that,” said Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, a vice chairman of the Legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee.

 


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