Funny, and sad, to see what inspires each arm of the sports entertainment industry to clean up its act.

For the NFL, the threshold was either one-sixth of a franchise getting arrested in a calendar year or two obnoxiously nicknamed nitwits becoming household thugs.

The NBA needed Ron Artest to hurdle the media table. NASCAR waited for its own Elvis to die with his boots on before mandating head and neck restraints. Baseball started worrying about steroids when its biggest jackass threatened its most hallowed record.

So what will it take for World Wrestling Entertainment to address issues that dwarf them all?

Oh, don’t get lofty on me. Yes, the outcomes are predetermined. Which is really no different than being a Kansas City Royals, Detroit Lions or Boston Celtics fan, if you think about it.

The saddest and most predictable statistics have nothing to do with pinning combinations and submission holds. They involve preventable and premature death from cancer, heart disease, or alcohol and drug abuse.

And now, murder-suicide.

In their investigation of a mind-numbing tragedy, Georgia authorities say 40-year-old WWE superstar Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself over the weekend.

Anabolic steroids — surprise, surprise — were discovered in the Benoit home.

If professional wrestling fans (and there are millions upon millions) are too anesthetized to be sad or angry right now, forgive us. Benoit’s demise won’t lower the average life expectancy in his profession much.

These days, if you want to live past 40 and retire with your dignity intact, you’re better off joining the porn industry than becoming a wrestler. I’d list all the pro grapplers who have experienced unexpected or unattended deaths since the mid-1980s, but it would take up this entire page.

Ultimately, Benoit was responsible for whatever chemical imbalance contributed to his despicable final act.

But if you don’t think WWE boss Vince McMahon deserves some of the blame for the unraveling of another three lives, you haven’t been paying attention.

Mr. McMayhem has fostered the raucous, rude, ribald culture of WWE, rarely lifting a finger to shut down its internal subculture of parties, performance-enhancers and painkillers.

Monday night, surely knowing far more than the rest of us did as the story broke, McMahon used WWE’s weekly, three-hour show on USA Network to air vintage matches and taped eulogies that painted a killer as a conquering hero.

It’ll happen again. And again. And again. But this was the last time I’ll be watching.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.