Folkstyle or Freestyle

In one of the more recent editions of WIN Magazine I enjoyed reading an article by Jordan Burroughs addressing the issue of what we have to do to move USAWrestling and America back into competitive relevance.

I like Jordan; he’s a good man, a great wrestler and an outstanding ambassador for the sport. So when I saw his article, I knew it was a must read.

One of the first topics he covered was freestyle versus folkstyle. It was JB’s opinion that if we’re ever going to be competitive in world competition, we need to focus our attention away from folkstyle.

Of course that isn’t a new assertion; people have been expressing that for years. And it’s as wrong today as it was when USAWrestling began using it as an excuse to cover up almost two decades of international incompetence. To eliminate any confusion here, I’m talking about the leadership of USAWrestling and not the quarter of a million men and women that expect effective leadership. I’m referring to those who either enjoy the salaries and perks of power or those who are in line to succeed those who are currently enjoying the salaries and perks of power. This is how accountability gets skewered and status remains quo.

For the following statistics, I’ll be referencing America’s freestyle program for men at the World Championships which has always been the barometer we use to determine program effectiveness.

Did you know; that since 2000 when the present leadership at USAWrestling came to power we’ve only had 3 individuals win a World Freestyle Championship . . . just three. And in the same period of time prior to 2000, the United States won 22 individual World Freestyle Championships.

So if we’re to believe the excuse regarding the evils of folkstyle, how is it possible that we won 22 individual Gold Medals during those previous 16 years? I thought the idea was we needed to decommission folkstyle so we could concentrate on freestyle?

So I wonder if it’s not a folkstyle-freestyle issue, what could it be? I only see two options, either the leadership in Colorado Springs is woefully inadequate or someone drained America’s gene pool around the time our current administration took office?

Personally, I refuse to believe that starting in 2000 our athletes somehow became genetically inferior to their European counterparts. That only leaves the leadership option for those whose corner offices are on Lehman Drive. They simply don’t have a clue how to build a world class program or develop athletes for international competition. Isn’t that the most important responsibility for any National Governing Body; to assure its membership and in this case the USOC that the sport is in good hands? Failing the international performance tests as they repeatedly do has to put into question their capability of developing the sport here at home.

Even if it were true that folkstyle is getting in the way of effective freestyle performances, which it’s not, why would anyone want to kill a 200 year old combative style so 10 freestylers may or may not have a better chance of winning an Olympic medal once every 4 years?

Seriously?

Are we actually talking about the elimination of a wrestling form that hundreds of thousands of children compete in every year just so we might be able to benefit less than .000001 percent of our population?  Somehow levelheadedness isn’t part of this conversation?

Just so everyone’s clear on how bad it is; were you aware that we have more wrestlers competing in America than any country in the world? That we have more wrestling rooms, more officials and more registered coaches than any country in the world and while we’re on a roll here, better sports medicine, sports psychology and access to better nutrition than any country in the world and if that didn’t get your attention, should I mention that America spends more money on wrestling than any country in the world.     

And yet we’re continually losing matches to countries that are smaller than some of our states and have populations less than a lot of our cities.

We can’t even hold our heads up when we host World Championships; at least in the areas where it counts. When the event was in Las Vegas last summer, USAWrestling touted the outcomes as being a tremendous success, clearing over $600,000.00. However athletically, even with home court advantage and all that means from officiating help to partisan crowds, we only qualified 2 freestyle weights for the men, 1 for the women and 1 in Greco-Roman. In other words 4 out of 16 weights got their ticket punched for Rio.     

Boy has our priorities changed. We use to plan, prepare and expect to win world medals in every weight, now USAWrestling worries about how they’re going to qualify weight classes just to be able to say they sent a team or worse, almost a full team to the big dance. When this becomes the mindset of any leadership group, where they begin to focus on just getting by, everything is about to go south, if it hasn’t already.

There may be some of you who are thinking about, “now wait a minute Wade, what about all the Soviet Republics that are now sending athletes to world competition as a result of the breakup? You need to compare apples to apples here to be fair.”

Good point, however the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 so for those 11 years leading up to 2000, I am comparing apples to apples. And prior to that, for those who remember back that far, the top 5 or so wrestlers in each weight class who didn’t win the Russian National Championships were sent to various Soviet Bloc countries to represent them. Not to mention others who simply defected for the chance to be free and compete under a different flag. So we’ve always encountered multiple wrestlers from the Soviet Union in world competition.

Another issue that is high on my of course they do list is we not only can’t win, too many of our bouts end up with our coaches trying to explain what happened with let’s see if I can keep my job statements like “we were close, we wrestled tough and I’m so proud of the way Johnny fought. We just have to work a little harder that’s all.”

Work harder? At what? Doing the same thing?

That philosophy only worked decades ago when matches were 9 minutes long, but not anymore. We’re so hard wired into thinking that being tough in the physical sense and/or in great shape entitles a person to a world medal that it’s all they think about.

Toughness is a state of mind, not a physical presence and being in better shape only helps the athlete if he or she attacks enough to make superior conditioning an issue.

Jordan succeeds because he’s extremely talented and skilled but his strength by far is his mental toughness. You see it every time he steps on a mat. The difference between Taylor and Dake is not talent or skill but the fine line between levels of mental toughness. The same is true for Dake versus Burroughs. It’s just that Jordan was raised on a different street corner than the rest of the field and it’s apparent. It’s always the difference in big matches. Being a physical bruiser or in great shape only qualifies wrestlers to be entrants in tournaments, it never puts anyone on the medal stand.

Right now there are several differences between American wrestlers and their European counterparts. Mental toughness is certainly one of them and as I explain myself here please don’t point to Kyle Snyder or Burroughs as proof to where I’m off base. For they excel primarily due to the overwhelming dominance we enjoy in America as a result of the numbers of wrestler’s we have competing and the exceptional amount of resources we consume. I don’t think anyone believes they’re winning as a result of the administration in Colorado Springs.

As my college coach use to say; “when you have a great wrestler, don’t screw him up by trying to coach him. Just get him to the match on time and both of you will be fine.”

But if there is good news in all this it’s that mental toughness can be learned. Unfortunately it’s just not part of the curriculum at USAWrestling. As long as our national governing body doesn’t require our top athletes to gather in Colorado Springs for steel sharpens steel practices, no matter how amazing our athletes are, there will always only be minimal development. And as we’ve seen, Europeans eat minimal for lunch.   

Last night my son and I were texting back and forth during the Penn State-Ohio State match and I was being critical of how the sport is failing and using the commercials that were being aired throughout the event as an example. Jake wrote somewhere during the evening, “Dad, I think you’re being hypercritical here.”

Well, perhaps. But if we’re to fix the things that keep us in the middle of the pack, it’s probably important to identify what they are and let people know.

Then it dawned on me. The reason I’m so adamant about fighting for the sport I love is my look into the future binoculars. It’s so clear where we’re not headed. How can we possibly feel we’re doing fine with 16,000 fans packing the Bryce Jordan Center and not one main stream company like Visa, Coke, Nike, T. Rowe Price or Chevrolet wanting to have anything to do with us? That should speak volumes.

All the Big Ten Network could round up were a few wrestling camps and one wrestling shoe manufacturer as advertisers because Wall Street is acutely aware of our nonexistent demographics.

Back to our international performances, I’m just sick at all the events we attend and the amount of resources we squander to continually see the letters DNP appear after our athlete’s names.

Our athletes deserve better, they deserve more.

But when USAWrestling continually gives their Executive Director hefty bonuses each year for embarrassing performances, I start to wonder if they aren’t actually a US government agency like the Veteran’s Administration? Especially when they turn around and increase the cost of memberships and service fees to overcome the hundreds of thousands of dollars of USOC money they don’t receive for medal production. It just seems wrong, every young athlete and hardworking volunteer has to pay more so those who are doing less can benefit.

The next failing I’d like to direct your attention to from those in Colorado Springs is their technical policies. It seems we’re so enamored with Soviet programming due to their current dominance that we’ve convinced ourselves the only way to win is to emulate their style.

What are they thinking? Sure, Russians do quite a lot of things well but so could we if our athletes were allowed to pour themselves a liberal dose of creativity.

Americans have always been the global kings of inventiveness, that’s one of our strengths and how many of our legends made the rest of the world shake their heads in confusion. We took creativity to interstellar levels and the opposition had no idea what unexpected techniques “those crazy Americans” were going to throw at them. But today we’re so predictable that countering our attacks seems like child’s play to even third and fourth tier athletes from other countries.

Now I do believe we should videotape all the opposing greats, but only to find weaknesses in their positioning, conditioning and attacks, not to turn what we see into a core curriculum for Team USA.

When you think about it, it’s irresponsible to coerce, compel or persuade athletes who have won several NCAA titles wrestling one way to change their styles. We should be fine tuning them instead, coaching to their strengths. If we would have forced Rick Sanders or Kendal Cross or John Smith or Dave Schultz or Ben Peterson or Andre Metzger or Randy Lewis or Cary Kolat or Bobby Weaver to wrestle like Lee Kemp or John Peterson, well, you can imagine that wouldn’t have gone well. Just look at the horrid performance Ben Askren had to endure in Beijing. He was our best chance for Gold and our coaches told him he couldn’t win if he was going to wrestle the way he had for the previous 15 years of legendary performances. So they changed him in a short three months, they took away his creativeness, his uniqueness and with it his confidence. It was just so sad to watch one of our greats implode on national television.

The idea shouldn’t be to eliminate the basics of wrestling or to make fun of conditioning, it’s to allow the cobra to bob and weave as the battle unfolds and the mongoose to feign, lurch and re-attack as openings are created. Battles like these don’t always go to the swiftest or the strongest but to the one who forces the opposition into unknown territory. No one can do that like Americans can.

We fail because our leadership core only subscribes to one way of wrestling and that philosophy has effectively reduced America’s flow of medal production to a trickle.

The point is we should be working to improve every athlete’s strengths; not trying to cram everyone into a one size fits all singlet. It’s so frustrating to see Colorado Springs have multiple freestyle coaches who all sing from the same hymnal. There’s no diversity of thought or any interest in diversity.

If I were wrong in my analysis here, you’d see our freestyle team flying to the OTC on a regular basis for fine tuning. But instead those from Iowa choose to stay in Iowa City to train; Pennsylvanians go to Penn State, Ohioans to Columbus while JB prefers Lincoln, Nebraska. Their non-verbal insistence that they stay clear of Colorado Springs should speak volumes.

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22 thoughts on “Folkstyle or Freestyle

  1. Great article and comments as well, Wade if we were scoring this article Folkstyle I would say you added another PIN to your astounding Record.Freestyle? then you exposed the proverbial backside of many issues from all levels of USA wrestling. Thank you.

  2. I’m Late to the party so I will be brief:
    1) folk style will be the death of NCAA wrestling. Eventually the pressure will be too great for AD’s to fund a male, non-Olympic sport. Of course Penn State, Iowa and Oklahoma State will be the last bastions but we will lose the No. Colorado’s, CalPoly’s etc. and then be down to too few to matter.
    2)USA wrestling pandering to folk style is a mistake (see above).
    3) The break-up of the Soviet Union skews any comparison to pre-2000 statistics. There are now 15 competitors (from a superior system) where there used to be 1.
    4) USA Folkstyle is a relatively new sport; in 1948 the NCAA championships were contested with freestyle rules (and maybe even after that). Source: 1948 NCAA runner-up, Rummy Macias
    5)USA wrestling has little influence over the IOC.
    6)We DO need a 100% over-haul in the system. (maybe this should be #1)
    7) The RTC’s are about the only thing that is right with the system and those came about through “market-demand” and were adopted by the Admin after the fact.

  3. Here is the current STRATEGIC PLAN for US Lacrosse – A Non – Olympic Sport only 14 years old.

    http://www.uslacrosse.org/portals/1/documents/pdf/about-us-lacrosse/2013-strategic-plan.pdf

    Without a leadership plan frustration builds and individuals wanting to help, create organizations they believe will help the sport – ultimately causing fragmentation to the sport when the sport needs consolidation. A unifying influence.

    Wrestling has a downward trend and survival issues going on right now. Primarily because of the lack of leadership.

    Everything involving events and competitions is management not leadership.

    The board of director should demand and require USAW’s management – produce and publish a strategic plan for the next 3 years – with at a very minimum a list of positions, responsibilities and goals – I.e Director of Membership – current membership by category, gender and style with current numbers and future expectations along with their plan to grow and enhance the services to each membership group.

    Again, very very basic and fundamental to developing a leadership role in the sport of wrestling.

    It would be absolutely wonderful to have a written and published annually the STATE of The SPORT written by the President of USAW and also one written by the Executive Director.

    If you are the National Governing Body USAW – then act like it… Take a leadership role! Leadership starts with a plan and then rallying people to support that plan. Now just with their donations but with their passion for the sport.

    Tell US what the plan is -

  4. I’ve read the post, responses and I have researched USAW and all of the Olympic sports over the last 3 years. Without exaggeration – I personally have over 2,000 hours of research invested in this subject.

    The undisputable prevailing issue with USAW is Leadership vs. Management.

    Clearly there is a confusion here on what the difference is – To keep it really simple – Leadership provides and makes available inspiration, direction, tools and resources to enable management to achieve leadership goals and vision.

    Without mixing word – Its my personal belief there is no leadership in wrestling as evidenced by the Strategic Vision document of the New Olympic sport of Rugby –

    http://usarugby.org/about-usarugby/strategic-plan

    Copy and paste and click on the document – Please read this document – This is a fundamental document produced by Leadership – It explains who they are – where they are going – and sets goals and milestone everyone can strive to achieve.

    Until a similar document is made public by USAW there is no leadership only managers of events and travel agendas.. Oh also needed is a board who is knowledgeable – well informed and is willing to hold leadership accountable for advancing the sport of wrestling. Which includes holding them to achieve what they have conceived…

    As with all management without leadership there will be a diminishing return on the investment. Frankly and simply this explains why a bigger budget produces an inferior result…

    Twice the budget with 1/3 of the results….

    Wrestling doesn’t have a money problem – its has a vision and goal setting problem which translates into the lack of leadership!

  5. Wade, there are a few journalistic liberties in your argument. Failing to note the turmoil in the Eastern bloc during the years of comparison is a touch disingenuous. After the iron curtain fell, USSR and other eastern bloc countries were quick to dismantle their state-sponsored sport programs. Performance-enhancing research was curtailed, coaches were seldom paid, travel, housing and food often were not reimbursed and most important the wrestlers were no longer professionals. Not to mention ARM & AZE were moving ever closer to war, militants in Chechnya were creating havoc, and Georgia was fending off a coup. What’s more, following its ’79 revolution Iran didn’t regain its former self until the past 4 or 5 years

    As a point of comparison, compare USSR’s last combined team’s performance [89, ’90 & ’91]: 4, 4 and 5 Gold medals w/ ’93, ’94 & ’95 immediately after the iron curtain fell– 1, 1 & 2 Gold medals. USA’s wrestling Gold medal count in contrast jumped dramatically. If you include the ’92 and ’96 Olympic Games, USA wrestlers won 17 Gold medals between ’91 & ’96. Beginning in ’97 many of the former soviet republics began to repair their wrestling programs and the effect was clear: USA would win only 1 Gold in each ’97, ’98 & ’99 World Ch. By 2000 ex-republics as a whole were much more formidable.

    I agree w/ you, given the number of wrestlers and our infrastructure, USA wrestlers should be garnering more medals. I agree our wrestlers are as strong, quick and as fit as ever. And I agree many of our most capable wrestlers gravitate to Regional centers [partnerships formed by USAW’s leadership] that offer ample supply of workout partners and a source of funding.

    But, if your argument is correct, then there are 3 most likely reasons: 1. RUS, AZE, IRI, GEO, KAZ and UZK provide more formidable competition; 2. The coaches at the Regional training centers and Colorado Springs are not preparing US wrestlers adequately to win medals; and/or 3. The transition from the Folkstyle to Freestyle rules is more difficult today than ever before.

    I believe having 15 to 17 former Soviet republic wrestlers in each wtg certainly complicates preparation, even if any one is not as keen as the Soviet wrestler. Though it broadens the field and make it more difficult to medal, it has less of an impact on the # of Gold as few are as prepared as the Soviet wrestlers. I don’t feel Cael Sanderson, Tom Brands, Rob Kohl, Tom Ryan or John Smith are any less coaches than their predecessors, but the reality is that they must coach to the rules. Today in comparison to the ’80s and ’90s, our rules or the referee’s interpretation of them makes Folkstyle resemble grappling more than wrestling. And w/out adjustment, the transition to Ultimate fighting may be easier, but the transition to intern’l wrestling will remain a challenge. It doesn’t require wholesale change of the folkstyle rules just a few modifications. At the top: When a collegiate wrestler intentionally goes to his back as a counter to a takedown, the referee should immediately award 2 pts and begin counting for a near-fall, in my opinion.

    I have to agree w/ Jordan Burroughs–the coaches need to press to have folkstyle rules move back toward wrestling and away from grappling if we’re going to improve our performance in intern’l wrestling. It has nothing to do w/ USAW’s leadership

    • Stan and Wade agree on some very critical points (which actually means A Lot since they are not fighting for the same cause if you will).

      Both find that the amount of competitors in our country ( 320 mil ppl & the State of Pennsylvania has more ppl in it than Cuba) should garner us more more Medals at International events.

      Both agree that wrestlers are attracted to RTCs as opposed to the centrally located “Head-Quarters” in Co.

      They also concur that fitness/conditioning is at an all time high (in the US – resources etc).

      Then the Wade/Stan marriage heads for a divorce…

      Wade points at leadership and Stan doesn’t. Wade sees a lack of medals and Stan provides an etiology to that down slide (which on the surface is logical and understandable).

      That chasm is fine, it’s normal to have a difference of vantage points.

      But, although I see how/why certain countries ran into major real life issues which brought them away from wrestling, I also see specific trends among the American greats:

      Save Jordan Burroughs, our Gold getters aren’t RE-capturing gold. That falls under “retiring” afterwards or not being able to regain that Gold medal performance.

      In this area I agree with Wades assertion that “we’re so predictable” becomes an issue in LONGEVITY/Continued Success.

      Only one of our Olympic Champs since 2000 has even medaled at worlds since he won Gold (Burroughs). Slay, Cael and Henry all retired afterwards and Varner has yet to place in Worlds.

      If Wades take is to improve and divorce ourselves from “one way of wrestling” and prevent coaches from all “singing from the same hymnal” would allow us to collectively “fine tune” the wrestlers as opposed to change (as Wades Askren example illustrates).

      I remember John Smith (the MOST dissected wrestler of the early 90’s) having to “fine tune” things in order to do what our current studs have difficulty doing (minus JB), continuing/maintaining excellence:

      Low single…ppl caught up; low single then turned to two consecutive low singles; it then turned to low single short drag; then low single peek out…all in a calculated response to the counters that were being developed to stop him. Ultimately, he won his 6th straight world gold with ONLY high crotches in the Olympic finals in Barcelona in ’92. I trust this is the “allow the cobra to bob and weave” type capacity Wade is alluding to. It’s safe to assume Smith doesn’t garner all of those Golds wo evolving and building onto what he already specialized in. Especially as opposition from around the world was toiling day and night to devise a counter attack to his famed low single.

      Creativity? What else would you expect from Wade. He not only was part of the “global kings of inventiveness” but one of his contemporaries, Rick Sanders, also wore that title well.

      Stan got my attention with
      “When a collegiate wrestler intentionally goes to his back as a counter to a takedown, the referee should immediately award 2 points and begin counting for a near fall”…hmmm, I LOVE where he is going with that. That would develop wrestlers counters to rival what we see internationally — which I’m in favor of. That’s countering and defending wo exposing ones back (even though levels of that can fit into “scrambling” just not “funk rolls”). Interesting take, although it would probably be just as effective if the two wasn’t awarded immediately but the refs allowance to administer a set of backs if you decide to stay on your back. Very interesting point.

      The broad spectrum that wades paying close attention to in this write up is strong and brow raising.

      Two areas that deserve more attention from the masses (in the US):

      1.) the mental toughest paradigm.

      2.) the “we were close, we’ll work harder” approach to the DNPs by our guys in comparison to Iran/RUS, AZE,Cuba etc.

      I’d like to hear/read Wade delve further into those two components of the discussion with more detail. I see them as immensely paramount to this discussion.

      Umm, oh yea…folkstyle or freestyle?

    • Stan . . . as always, logical, informed and your responses organized.

      But I find all the details somewhat tiring to read. Of course we can all dig down and point to this happening in March of 1993 and that during the winter season of 2007, but as Yoda so expressively stated in the first Star Wars movie to young Luke, “either you did or you didn’t do.”

      That’s how corporate America views performance. They don’t care that the northeast has been fighting through a blizzard for the last three weeks, where are the signed contracts? Stock holders don’t care that the concrete union is on strike, heads are going to roll if the project isn’t delivered on time.

      We have the athletes, the coaches, the infrastructure and the resources, just not the medals.

      To error is human, to forgive divine. But for well over a decade of truly sub-par performances? Granted, we both want the same thing but to overlook leadership’s responsibility here is also disingenuous.

      I believe the point I’m trying to make is it’s USAWrestling and it’s leadership team who touts themselves as America’s National Governing Body for Wrestling. If that’s true, and that’s what they continually say, then both their successes and their failures must fall in their laps.

      • Wade, I don’t overlook leadership’s responsibility. It’s the basis of my argument. It’s not leadership’s task to coach or wrestle. In fact, as National Coach I rejected all overtures by leadership into the training, technical development, team selection and tactical & strategic secrets. In my view, this wasn’t support, it was interference. The performance of the team was the responsibility of the coaching staff. If they didn’t like the performance of the team, fire me.

        I looked to leadership to make adequate arrangements for training camps, to provide invaluable opportunities to compete against our intern’l foes, to ensure a level playing field among the intern’l. referees, to supply scouting videos, to make certain our accommodations at the event were convenient–among other organizational issues. And the most valuable–organize the World Championship, especially the yr before the Olympic Games as it’s the 1st and largest qualifier For me, hosting the ’79 World Championships in San Diego was perhaps the best thing leadership did during my tenure as National Coach. It sure helped our team win 7 medals that year, tied for the 2nd highest # of medals ever. Though the ’84 Olympic Games were boycotted by some of our toughest competition, the home court certainly help us [my last event as US National Coach] win 7 Gold and 2 Silver medals.

        Between 1985-2000 the yrs you mention, the then-leadership organized only 1 World Championship; and that was because I was on Atlanta’s Olympic risk management committee and I convinced the Atlanta organizing committee to allow Jim Scherr and me to go to the World Championships in Sweden and convince the Czechs to give Atlanta the ’95 freestyle World C, which the ATL Organizing Committee funded. The former Czechoslovakia had just split and the Czech Republic had the rights to both styles. Jim and I along w/ an employee of the Atlanta Games negotiated a deal w/ the Czechs: They keep Greco-Roman and Atlanta organized the ’95 World Championship as its test event for the ’96 Games.

        In contrast, between 2000-2015, current-leadership organized the ’03 W.C in Madison Sq. Gardens [an event where Sec Defense Rumsfeld, Chrmn of Goldman Sachs Steve Friedman, Pulitzer prize winner John Irving and Nobel Laureate Norm Borlaug were honored at the NYAC [and all attended]. As you mentioned current-leadership also organized the ’15 World C. in Las Vegas.

        In my mind leadership is doing its part.

        • Stan . . . then we agree. Leadership is accountable.

          They’re the ones who are responsible to vette and select the most qualified individuals to head the different departments. They’re the ones who are responsible to supply the tools and resources to set direction, expectations and provide oversight for success.

          But when things aren’t going according to plan, they are also the ones who need to step in and take corrective action to assure that goals are met.

          Obviously that’s not being done.

          So the facts remain the facts. From 1984 to 2000 USAWrestling had a budget that was half of what it’s been for the last 16 years. Yet Gold Medal production at the World Championships for men has dropped over 75% with a budget that’s double in size.

          So what’s missing here; leadership, resources, expectations, or oversight? Doesn’t seem to be resources; so it must be expectations and oversight which is the responsibility of leadership.

          • Wade,
            Unfortunately, USAW’s leadership has no say in the hiring or firing of the coaches @ the Regional training centers–which as you point out are the preferred training sites for our USA Freestyle team. No matter who the coaches are @ the training center in Colorado Springs, our USA wrestlers would most likely continue to train @ the various Regional Centers for the largest portion of the year. I can’t imagine you or myself–had we had the choice–choosing to train in Colorado Springs.
            And the Amateur Sports Act ensures that our USA wrestlers have the choice.

  6. The style debate and discussion is fun and interesting. It also seems like so much rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Our sport has foundational issues that aren’t being addressed in a credible way (and are covered elsewhere in Wade’s very good blog). For example, can SI do this type of article on wrestling at any level?
    http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/02/11/big-data-gamechanger-high-school-majors . No. It is a fundamental defect of our sport that stats of “big data” proportions aren’t easily accessible because they’re scribbled on a piece of paper or squirreled away in a database which is monopolized for the benefit of a single commercial entity (which, in turn enriches the NWCA which, ironically, is the organization chartered to **help** our sport). In the 21st century, that’s simply inexcusable. Top tier sports at all levels are eating our lunch in the digital and statistical domains while coaches pride themselves on technical ineptitude, as though it were a badge of honor or an attaboy-deserving behavior. Ancient attitudes to go along with an ancient sport. This is my pet peeve issue and I’m sure there are other foundational issue needing advocacy and credible (!) attention. We need to, I think, make some progress on these foundational issues before someone turns out the lights as we all navel-gaze and mutter, in unison, “wrestling is such a great sport.”

    • Well said Takedown.

      We should collaborate on a few articles. That could fun.

      What I really want to write but can’t is the notion that USAWrestling, if they are to be the National Governing Body for wrestling should be put in charge of all wrestling. Overseeing folkstyle and the international styles for all ages. That would make a great deal of sense. Wrestling desperately needs one overseeing leadership team that’s in charge of the sport who’s RESPONSIBLE for the health, safety, growth and development of wrestling. But until that happens, we will continue to falter and languish.

      Unfortunately Colorado Springs can’t handle what they have let alone be responsible for the entire sport. So we’re stuck with 5 or 6 organizations who can’t agree on the time of day let alone decide the direction the sport needs to travel.

      Right now there are about 3 other minor sports who are using this model very successfully. And I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them didn’t replace us as an Olympic sport.

  7. Not much to add, what can I say…I agree!

  8. Bob and weave like a cobra….all the time! great stuff Wade!

  9. Another bulls-eye, Wade. “In other words 4 out of 16 weights got their ticket punched for Rio”. Amen.

  10. It has long been said that wrestling is a science and art. The best part of wrestling is the artistic side. Creative minds are never bored because they are constantly exploring beyond where they are at! This brings stimulation, self satisfaction and continual growth. Creativity is the primary reason why Wade Schalles was almost always able to find a way to win and continues to be a blessing to our sport. I don’t agree with everything said but always enjoy his viewpoints because they are as creative as his wrestling was.

  11. I love your no nonsense approach on these very important topics to the sport of wrestling. Group think is always dangerous to any organization so it is great to have a naysayer come forth and question the status quo. I just have one question- when are you going to run for office? :)

  12. Great thoughts Wade. Lets get the train rolling.

  13. I think your a common sense genius!

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