The end of the year is a time when we toss out the old and ring in the new.
Thus, this is a good time to put some bad practices to rest.
We'll start with eliminating a two-bit fable: Professional wrestling? It's fake.
Right now you're saying, "Duh." But professional wrestling - as different from traditional Greco-Roman wrestling as Paris Hilton is from Paris, France - has a near-religious following, especially here in the South. Many of its fans actually believe the men-in-tights soap-operas played out in arenas and on TV.
But when a wrestling official recently was quoted as admitting wrestling is fake, it should have forever ended any "debate."
The quote came in a wire story about a proposal to give oversight of professional wrestling to Georgia's Athletic and Entertainment Commission, which regulates boxing and mixed martial arts.
The proposal comes after several high-profile criminal cases involving wrestlers. The business has become as out of control as an eight-man cage match.
The pro wrasslin' folks are as scared of oversight as a wrestler with bad knees is of a figure-four leg lock. And to help make the case that oversight isn't needed, one of their officials admitted it isn't a sport, and thus doesn't need regulation the same way boxing does.
Here's the quote: "Almost every state knows, and has known for years, that wrestling is entertainment and not a sport. It's like Ice Capades." So says Jerry McDevitt, an attorney representing World Wrestling Entertainment.
He's skating on thin ice with that excuse.
Georgia's Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, created a loophole two years ago that exempts pro wrestling from oversight. Apparently, either the lawmakers already know wrestling is fake but don't want their constituents to catch on, or, they still think it's a sport and don't want regulators to mess with a good thing.
I don't find reassurance in either possibility.
Of course, this is also the Legislature that has refused in recent years to add tougher penalties to dog fighting. It looks like this could be the year that we end that awful practice.
State Sen. Chip Rogers has seen the chances improve that 2008 will be the year that his dogfighting bill will become law.
Georgia's laws are among the weakest in the country. It's illegal to conduct a dog fight, but it's legal to train fighting dogs and to attend dog fights. Rogers' bill would toughen those laws.
He's been helped by the arrest, guilty plea and prison sentence of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, whose Virginia home was used for fight-dog training.
I'm not sure anyone has yet admitted that Atlanta Falcons football also is fake, but I expect that to come any day.
If you think dog fighting laws should be tougher in Georgia, let your local lawmakers know you expect them to support Rogers. The legislative session opens in just a couple of weeks, so time's a-wastin'.
One final remnant that we should get rid of in the new year: Georgia's seatbelt law loophole.
Former House Speaker Tom Murphy had been out of office for five years when he died recently. Even so, lawmakers had failed to undo his demand that pickup-truck drivers be exempt from the state's seatbelt law.
If we're going to have a mandatory seatbelt law, it should apply equally to the drivers of every vehicle. Lawmakers should close the loophole or do away with the law altogether.
Personally, I don't believe in seatbelt laws for adults. I think only idiots fail to wear them, but people should have a right to be stupid. Otherwise, professional wrestling could never be so popular.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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