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Todd Thomas




Hey yo...a ppv report and a weak column last week weren't enough for me. I'm back again with another 500 words of inane babble.

Ever have one of those days when you walk into work, look at your desk/workstation/cubicle/workbench and realize that there is absolutely nothing work-related that will hold your interest? Good thing my boss is out of the office today, because that's where I am. As Rebecca and Sharon know from my countless emails, that's not an uncommon feeling for me. Anyone want to hire me? Somehow trying to count up how many taxable parcels of residential property there are in the Adirondack Park doesn't have quite the zing to it I'd hoped for in my future career while I was dreaming away in grad school. Maybe I should have done a little less dreaming, then...

So anyway, that leaves me some extra time to think about wrestling and try to stitch together the voices in my head into a coherent column. Yesterday, I read a column on Another Wrestling Website (hey, I wonder if Shannon will sue me now for using that phrase) about how being a "smart mark" is all about wanting to know what is happening in advance just to be a smart guy and be a step ahead of (neener neener neener, I know things that you don't know!!) other fans. Not completely untrue, but I just wanted to offer my thoughts on that.

Ever listen to sports radio? Not the banal ESPN Radio stuff, but WFAN in NY or the other great stations around the country where angry fans are always second guessing the general managers, coaches, other fans, and anyone else that dares to have an opinion. Ever pick up Mel Kiper Jr's NFL draft predictions, or watch him on tv giving his picks? Ever listen to the great Barry Melrose give his thoughts on who the Rangers need to sign to have a chance not to suck as much as the Islanders? If you do any of that, you are a fairly involved fan. Sports, to most of us, is about more than just the 60 minutes on the ice, the 48 minutes on the hardwood (except the Kings, of course, who usually only play 30 to their opponents 48) and the 60 on the turf. Some of us like to see who is out there as free agents, or who is available for trades, and talk about how that could help our team. Some of us like to hear about the personalities of our favorite athletes, to learn a little more about them than a 17.4% scoring percentage or a 4.5 second hangtime on a punt, to learn what drives them, makes them succeed, or to figure out why someone would want that many gold chains.

To me, there is very little difference in how I follow sports and how I follow sports entertainment. Yet this column on Wrestleline seemed to take a much different view, and one that I've seen often in interviews, comments and other wrestler's columns. Being a smart mark is bad. It's intrusive. It exposes the sport. It's just to prove how smart you are compared to everyone else, and make you seem like a big bad insider who probably tells his friends you've partied with Waltman and helped Hogan into the tanning bed.

I don't read websites to know things in advance, although I do check out spoilers for most shows. Although I wouldn't mind working in the creative department of any wrestling organization, I have no desire to party with Waltman (although a little GHB in his drink, a sheep and a polaroid camera would be very interesting) or be within fifty feet of Hogan (other than to get him into that tanning bed and padlock that bitch shut). I go to websites because, much like I care who the Maple Leafs are drafting this year, I care who is on the WWF roster and how the next cycle of angles are going to shape up because of signings, injuries and backstage issues. I visit websites because as a professional adult, I don't get to talk about wrestling much in my daily life and enjoy some intelligent discussion and analysis.

Wrestling is more than fourteen hours a week of television to a great many fans. It's something that a good number of us care enough about to recap, critique, research and devote a lot of hours of our free time to (or company time in my case). To say that wanting to know more than what is presented on tv is somehow bad for the business or the fans is just plain insulting to everyone involved. So thank you to everyone out there that reads and writes columns, visits websites and clicks on the ads. Unless the site doesn't have ads, which just rocks. Or if the site now has annoying new windows that pop up when you visit them, which I recommend avoiding the site entirely. It's the input of the other fans that makes wrestling as interesting for me as it is, in spite of the shots tossed our way from those in the business.

On a related note, I've had an idea for a year now about a column I would love to write detailing some of the various kinds of marks, smarks, smarts and fans that are out there. I'd love it if I could get some feedback about how you readers (both of you!) became fans and where you see yourself on the great ladder between mark and smart.

Until next time...

Todd Thomas

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