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ESPN's "The Wrestler" Segment on Wrestling's Scott Hall Called "Best News Feature" of 2011 on Astini News

The Sports Illustrated website listed ESPN's E:60 feature on pro wrestler Scott Hall as "Best News Feature on a Sports Program." The short documentary chronicled Scott Hall's rise to fame in pro wrestling, and his fall from grace because of a drug and alcohol dependency. The piece focused on the infamous Scott Hall incident that took place at an independent wrestling event in Fall River, Massachusetts, where Hall was allowed to perform under the influence. As a wrestling performer, this documentary and subsequent award reminds me of the very real dangers of addiction that pro wrestling brings with it.

Pro wrestling has long been regarded as a "fake" sport. In fact, most people won't even refer to it as a sport because of its lack of authentic competition. But the truth is, the word "fake" doesn't fit the bill anymore than the word "sport" does not fit the bill to wrestling detractors.

Pro wrestling hurts. A body slam isn't rigged and the punches do connect. Trust me, I've been wrestling for 10 years and it's not a walk in the park. When a 250 lb man falls to the mat from six feet in the air, a very real impact is made. The ring is not a trampoline, as many people have insisted. I have never encountered a trampoline made of steel, wood and cables. The ring doesn't bounce like a trampoline. It may have a little give in the middle, but nobody in their right mind would ever describe it as soft.

In addition, wrestlers do not have an off season. They often wrestle between 250-300 days a year. If you can imagine for a second, being slammed on a thick piece of lumber over 1000 times a year, it's easy to see why wrestlers fall prey to the addiction of pain killers.

For the men and women who call wrestling their profession, it's easy to fall into the drug and alcohol daze. Those vices numb your body and alleviate stress. Unfortunately, you often do not realize you're in the clutches of addiction until, like Scott Hall, you hit rock bottom.

As an independent wrestler, I've never taken medication to alleviate the pain. But then again, I am lucky enough not to be under contract for a certain number of dates per year. I'm lucky enough not to have to put my body through the pain for income. For big time players, their options are limited. And sometimes, the idea of taking a few pills to feed their family can be easily justified.

I'm not condoning drug use. But it always seems that pro wrestling is the black sheep of the sports family. Critics will point fingers at wrestlers and call them "drug users" and "pill poppers" but never think of road that brought the wrestler to that spot.

The story of Scott Hall is an extreme case of drugs and alcohol taking over ones life. He is not the poster child for "wrestlers with addiction problems." Unfortunately, that's the picture that is painted in the E:60 segment, and typical of stories that are done on wrestling.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

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