Tomorrow, the voice of Monday Night Raw, JR, will travel to Cambridge, Mass., to spend two days as a guest lecturer at MIT. With over 30 years of experience in sports-entertainment, JR will share his insights with the students in Sam Ford's course, Comparative Media Studies: American Professional Wrestling. Even though he is coming in to share his expertise, JR says that he is excited to learn from the students.
"I'm really interested and excited to see what questions these very bright men and women are going to have after having studied sports-entertainment all semester," said JR. "You're looking at some of the most elite college students in America and the world going to MIT."
Some might find it surprising that a university known for its science and math achievements would offer such a course, but JR thinks it is a positive move.
"I think it's very unique, and shows great diversity for the university to explore something with such mass appeal as sports-entertainment," said the Raw announcer. "I think sports-entertainment is a true part of Americana with very unique origins. I think it's very much thinking outside the box."
The course studies the history of sports-entertainment as well, dating back to the days of carnivals and traveling circuses where strong men would take on any challengers. It also covers how changing technologies have helped to shape the business. It is this, Ford believes, that makes sports-entertainment unique and worthy of studying.
"Few types of entertainment have morphed or changed as often as pro wrestling when it comes to media history," said Ford. "When you look at wrestling pre-television versus its early TV days, you see how massively the game changes once it is televised, and how it is almost made for television. Then WWE came along in the ‘80s with cable television, which totally changed the business of pro wrestling. Pay-per-view then came along, and totally changed how pro wrestling was configured," Ford explained.
"Now there are things like WWE.com, WWE 24/7 and the DVD market," Ford continued. "We look at not only how the business model changes, but also how the performances change through the years as the medium has changed."
Embracing new technologies, students contribute their opinions to a class blog based on readings and clips they have watched. Reoccurring themes in the blog include the questions: What is real? What makes a star? What role does the audience play? Surely, these are all topics that will be discussed with JR this Wednesday and Thursday. While JR is excited to learn what the students' thoughts and questions are, there is another reason he is excited to visit the university.
"On a personal level, I always thought if I hadn't gotten involved in this business I would have liked to become a teacher," admitted JR. "I can kind of live vicariously through that when I spend a couple of days at MIT."
JR will be part of a public speaking event from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday evening in Building 4 Room 370. For directions, please contact email@example.com.