Today the governor of Florida and mayor of Orange County* have deemed professional wrestling (Hulk Hogan et al.) to be an “essential activity,” allowing it to go forward despite government orders to shelter in place for the rest of us.
Floridians do not like the smell of what these Florida politicians are cookin’.
Aside from showing the poor judgment of some Florida elected officials, this announcement shows the danger of giving complete, unchecked power to government during times of crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the ingenuity and innovative power of the free market: Car manufacturers are making ventilators, liquor distilleries are making hand sanitizers, and fashion designers are making face masks. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also shown the (sometimes deadly) danger of slow, haphazard, and unpredictable government regulation. Governors across the country have closed businesses, shut down public spaces, and instituted quasi-police states to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. But many of those same governors have allowed primary elections to go forward unabated and have given special favors to connected companies and friends.
WWE wrestling is no more “essential” to Floridians than the closed-down restaurants in their neighborhoods or the shuttered small businesses they support. This exemption for professional wrestling could put lives in danger and shows the importance of respecting the reliable and predictable rule of law.
If the State of Florida and Orange County believe pro wrestling is safe for the public and does not risk the spread of COVID-19, then ease up on restrictions on the rest of the state. On the other hand, if the elected leaders do not believe wrestling is safe, then do not make up a nonsense exemption that runs the real risk of adding to the numbers of people who are infected, and the higher risk that the residents of Florida start ignoring orders that are appropriately designed to protect the public health.
*Author’s note: after this blogpost went to press, the Orange County Mayor’s office asked me to clarify that it was the State of Florida’s decision to deem professional wrestling an essential service, as reflected in this short state Division of Emergency Management memo–not the Mayor’s decision.