Barthes essay on Wrestling highlighted some aspects of a sport that I had never considered before. That idea that the sport is a spectacle, or a dramatic, fated outplay was the most interesting to me. So, immediately after class, I thought of how comparable this idea is to modern day wrestling! That is is more of a show, than it is a tough sport. I have heard many arguments about the wide world of wrestling as it stands today; some love it, and others hate it. Personally, I see it for exactly how Barthes sees it, an outstanding spectacle to be watched, and one with a predetermined fate where one can already decide and foresee who will be the victor.

Not much has changed when we talk about how perhaps it is a contest of good vs. bad, this type of character versus another type. Even when we consider what Barthes sees as a “fair fight” into modern day wrestling, there sometimes is an aspect of respect and politeness. Of course now there are props, spitting, long hair, tight shorts, and an arena full of spectators who expect nothing less than to see exactly what they knew they would. The wrestling stage could be seen more of a acting stage, or a trip to the theater, as much of what is “wrestled” is well scripted and performed according to play. Noting back to Barthes’ essay, I will say that I had never even seen or considered what he mentions in Wrestling. Now that I have had some extensive reading with that particular essay, I am starting to pick up on this idea in other areas.

If, like many of us, you were not able to witness the men’s final to this year’s Australian Open in tennis, then you surely did miss an absolute spectacle. I was listening to the radio on my trip home this weekend and the discussion was about how grand this match was. The match was the world number one Novak Djokovic versus fan favorite and superstar Rafael Nadal. The match was eventually won my Djokovic, but not until the fifth set! The match itself lasted over five hours, and the level of intensity that was displayed could be compared to the fury of which Barthes describes his French wrestlers. Where is my point? My point is that the radio man described this match as a “spectacle”, where fans would sit idly by, mostly silent, for over five hours just to see if one man would prove their theories right. How one man (Djokovic) would use his uncanny “underdog-ism” and fight till the very end, or how Nadal would be the supreme athlete that he is and will his way to victory.

In comparison to how they play a gentleman’s game, I would say that tennis reaches far and above what wrestlers do. Even at the end of the match, they both congratulate each other, and say something about the match to the fans in the trophy presentation. Anyone should be able to admire how even the loser can do this. So I believe that the idea that Barthes is giving us in this essay of Wrestling can be applied in many areas of sport.

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One response »

  1. Michael K. Johnson says:

    You do a good job of summarizing and explaining the Barthes essay. I’m not quite sure how well the comparison to the tennis match works, as much of the thrill of the match involves the fact that it is a contest, the outcome of which is uncertain. However, tennis does often exaggerate the personalities of the players in ways similar to what Barthes describes with wrestlers. I don’t know these two players well enough to know if each one is know as embodying a particular characteristic (in classic tennis, the icy Swede Bjork, the fiery Amercan McEnroe.

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