I received this response from one of my readers. It pretty well sums up some of the challenges the sport faces.
You have to understand, I’ve never been a wrestler. My father once said wrestling was gay. Even if my father hadn’t said that, I probably couldn’t have been able to wrestle. I was born with asthma. I might have been able to build up some stamina for wrestling, but my stamina would always have been wanting.
My nephew tried the sport for a few years back in middle school and dropped out. This is why I got interested enough to comment here. I tried to read up on the sport, tried to understand what he was getting into.
I failed. Must be wrestling is too subtle for us non-wrestlers?
Someone told me wrestlers worry about balance and foot position and leverage and several other things. To this day I wouldn’t know if a person had good balance or foot position. I can understand when a wrestler accomplishes something. I can recognize a takedown, but not how the takedown was accomplished.
I find takedown/stand up wrestling boring. I see a takedown. I see a standup. I thought wrestling was about pinning. I can recognize a pin is happening most of the time, except if I try to watch the Olympics. A momentary pin in the Olympics happens too fast. It’s over before I even have a chance to get excited thinking something has happened. I gave up trying to watch Olympic wrestling.
The one second pin in College is almost too fast. It’s over before I realize something is happening. You wish to address my (non-wrestler) view of wrestling? Understand biases and limitations non-wrestlers may have. Non-wrestling spectators are excited by pinning. It’s like a knock-out in boxing. It’s like a touchdown in football. It’s like scoring a goal in hockey. You keep shortening the time a wrestler needs to be pinned and Olympic wrestling seemed to do away with it all together.
Maybe you should lengthen the time for a pin to three or five seconds combined with a rule, when the wrestler being pinned relaxes, it’s over. In this way, you can’t have wrestlers relax while being pinned like they did in professional wrestling where a professional wrestler would relax for the first two hand slaps and then get out before the third hand slap. Maybe you should do away with the time (1 second, 2 second, whatever) for the pin altogether and just say, it’s over when a wrestler is pinned and he relaxes.
Maybe you should do away with the rule; a wrestler can be saved from a pin with the period running out of time. I think there are some boxing rules (I am not a boxer either) where a boxer can’t be saved by the bell. Maybe wrestling should say, the only way to get out of a pinning situation is to struggle out of a pinning situation. Time doesn’t get you out. You can only get out of a pin by struggling out.
This takedown/stand up business is like the football players moving the football back and forth without ever scoring a touchdown. It’s like hockey players controlling the puck without scoring. Sure the hockey players are experts at passing the puck, but so what. It’s boring.
Get rid of technical falls please. The goal of wrestling should be pinning. Do we end a football game when one team is ahead by twenty points? Do we reward the football team that has the most yardage? Does a hockey game end when one team is ahead by three points? Do we reward the hockey team that has control of the puck most of the time? We reward the football team that has the most touchdowns. We reward the hockey team that has the most goals.
You may think scoring points for takedowns or escapes or reversals is exciting. You understand how difficult (or easy) scoring those points are. You understand how those takedowns and escapes and reversals were done. Non-spectators, like me, do not. We don’t notice the foot work or hand work or other things you can appreciate. After a while, we find it boring.
We understand when a wrestler weakens and relaxes while being pinned. We can see the wrestler straining to keep a shoulder blade off the mat. We see the wrestler working for the pin straining to press the shoulder blades down. Think of the excitement and sense of relief or frustration when the wrestler being pinned works out of the pin. Think of the sense of finality when the wrestler being pinned fails to escape, and gradually weakens, and finally relaxes, and we see the shoulder blades go down.
I don’t know how you address the gay issue. Maybe that’s an issue you can’t address and must hope goes away on its own. Being a non-wrestler, I’m hesitant when you ask me to post my real name. I’m sticking my nose in your affairs when I don’t know what I’m talking about. I am probably the last person who can give you advice. I can’t speak for all non-wrestling spectators. I can only speak for myself. Maybe you should find a way to poll non-wrestling, prospective spectators, to ask them what they think.
This is what I think. This is my two cents. Take it for what it’s worth.
Now I’m not going to comment on this gentleman’s observations other than to say wrestling needs to develop focus groups. Our growth and even the sports survival will depend on what others from outside the sport believe.
I also happen to feel he’s right on the money about the pin; it’s our equivalent of the grand slam, the knockout, the hail Mary and the buzzer beating half-court shot. And as I will post later in How Wrestling Wins, athletes shouldn’t be saved by the buzzer if they’re on their backs. Action should continue until there’s a fall or the pin is no longer imminent. It’s a small change that would have a huge impact on excitement and how we’re viewed by the general public.
But the most important thing we can learn here is there are viewpoints out there that differ from those within the sport. Our growth, and quite possibly our survival will depend on our openness to new ideas.