How Wrestling Wins – Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

Here’s the final chapter of How Wrestling Wins. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed my time trying to infuse logic into the sport. This effort represents 147 pages of text and literally hundreds of hours of critical thinking, mostly with a good glass of scotch in hand so it wasn’t an unpleasant experience.

Unfortunately the sport as we know it is either a product of our leadership’s inability or unwillingness to remain relevant. Either way, the outcome of their ineffectiveness has placed an expiration date on what many administrators think of as a disposable sport.

I can’t believe our nativity; we put our trust in those who control the conversations only to find that they live on another planet. But if there’s good news; we can break free of their gravitational pull anytime we want. It just requires the decision that enough is enough.

Until that happens I will continue to keep you informed of the latest news that’s not being reported. To that point, why is it impossible to find objective information on the state of wrestling?

Granted, the esprit de corps we share among ourselves is one of the sport’s greatest strengths. But it’s also a weakness. We just can’t keep closing our eyes and say good things about the sport while shunning all those who dare to point out that some of our emperors aren’t wearing clothing.

Where are the editorial pages in WIN, Amateur Wrestling News or Wrestling USA that cover the sports shortcomings? If it’s acceptable and also effective for coaches to point out to their athletes by their actions or inactions how they’re stumbling, why shouldn’t our coaches and leadership receive the same scrutiny?

Whether we like it or not, wrestling needs disrupters, educated individuals who can point out which processes need overhauled and what positions need refreshed. Wrestling is in desperate need of fair, balanced and candid conversations. But currently that’s only happening in blogs and face to face conversations when no one else is listening.

We all know that USAWrestling is wonderful but when the United States only has 1 male wrestler that’s ranked in the Top 64 of the world’s best, that’s not very wonderful. So my question is, if performances we can evaluate are that bad, how are they doing in areas that aren’t so transparent?

How many of you were aware statistically of our shortcomings in international competition for the men? Did you know we only have 1 wrestler that’s good enough to make the world’s ranking ladder in either freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling?

That’s the point. Why haven’t you read about that somewhere? Could it be that it represents exactly how ineffective our national governing body has been for over a decade at fulfilling it’s responsibilities. Not the organization itself or the staff, but leadership.

We’re in so much trouble as a sport yet all we’re ever given to read is made of cotton candy. Where’s the dialogue, the open discussions about areas that aren’t necessarily fun to read but are absolutely imperative that we know? Only when the sport is willing to discuss every challenge that faces it will we be on the road to recovery.

“As a parent of a former youth and now high school wrestler (with no wrestling history in the family), your comments are right on the mark! How can we not adopt your recommendations and hope to survive? Obviously, everything is up for debate, but your blog series is certainly the most well-considered and consolidated list of proposals I have come across. The duals focus, scoring and clothing changes should be adopted immediately. I think the sport deserves that your proposals be tried in a competitive environment before those in denial bash you for your irreverence.”

Jason Phillips, Arlington, TN

Title Sponsors, Strategic Alliances and Giving Back. Any sport that doesn’t have a corporate sponsor is inconsequential and if they haven’t aligned themselves with social causes they’re pretty much irrelevant. That’s wrestling in a nutshell.

Why don’t we have any title sponsors? At least for our NCAA Championships if not the sport in general? Even if we have to give them away to get relationships started, which I doubt we’d have to do, wrestling needs the clout that a Coca-Cola, or Chevrolet, or VISA brings to the table.

Having relationships with powerful corporations is a game changer. It moves societies’ perception of whomever they partner with from irrelevant to prominent.

The perplexing part of all this is it isn’t hard to do. There are companies out there that specialize in marrying sports and sponsors. This is why the National Wrestling Association (first discussed in Chapter 5) or the IFW (discussed later in this blog) is so important. Because wrestling doesn’t have an overarching organization that can speak for the sport like you see with the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA or NHL. Sponsorships aren’t hard to come by but each company needs to have someone to meet with that represents the sport. Who currently speaks for us, Rich Bender? Mike Moyer? Lee Roy Smith? Jack Roller? The answer is no one; each of those individuals are only responsible for the organizations they represent.

That’s probably our largest challenge; wrestling doesn’t have an overarching organization that can speak for the entire sport. Wall Street level companies aren’t interested in meeting with the heads of subset groups. Each of our organizations is too small for anyone to be bothered with, but as a unified sport wrestling is marketable.  

A few years back we lost a great opportunity when Dave Pottruck, a very passionate retired wrestler/graduate of the University of Pennsylvania was CEO of Charles Schwab. Imagine if someone would have sat down and asked Dave to consider sponsoring wrestling and what such an alignment would have done for the sport. Envision television commercials with video of a wrestler helping a vanquished opponent back to his feet and having his hand raised in victory to the sound bite: “When wrestling with your investments remember Charles Schwab is here make sure you come out on top!”

Name one athletic administrator in America who would dare drop his wrestling program when the sport has AT&T, or Bayer Aspirin, or AutoNation as a national sponsor?

Either the wrestling community can’t see the amazing possibilities that sponsorships provide or they do but would rather be independently obstinate than work together as a team. Pick one, there isn’t an option C.

Regarding strategic alliances and the responsibility of giving back, wrestling as a sport and its individual programs has to begin to give back to others just as we expect to be given. We need to be seen as more than just a sport. We have to think beyond ourselves and share with others our good fortune of having health, happiness, strong mental capacities and an immense internal drive.

No matter the age of our athletes, where they’re from or the team they represent, each program must find ways to make a difference for society. We need to be known as “America’s Give Back Sport.”

Serving food at homeless shelters would work; reading books to hospitalized children is another. Donating time to an animal shelter or assisting at a senior citizen’s center are a few other possibilities. Coaches might consider adopting a highway close to their school or helping the local Red Cross with their annual blood mobile drive; or creating relationships with organizations like United Way or UNICEF.

Think of the cumulative benefits wrestling would receive when the sport combined its efforts for social good, not to mention how those we serve benefit. All anyone has to do is look around in their community; there are oodles of feel good, do good causes that could use our help.

This is so important because 84% of Americans have a more positive image of a company or group when it supports those who are less fortunate, be that a local charity or national cause. Nearly 90% of those surveyed said it was important that organizations come together for the purpose of solving pressing social issues and regarding the business side of things, 79% of Americans indicate they would likely switch from one product brand to another one if it was associated with a cause they believed in.

For wrestling in general, the Wounded Warrior Project seems to be a natural fit given the number of military personnel that were and are wrestlers and of course the great service the group does for those who give up a part of their tomorrow’s so we can have all of our todays. And ironically, the Wounded Warrior Project’s logo is one soldier carrying another over his shoulder in a double leg.

The American Red Cross would also work and regardless of the one or ones we choose, developing a reciprocal relationship with these sorts of companies would strengthen the public’s image of wrestling. When we work together, wrestlers and companies, wrestlers and local charities, each group exceeds the sum of its parts.

Can you name any major corporation who doesn’t look for this type of global synergy? The Walt Disney Company partners with the United Way because it’s good business and helpful to society. Microsoft supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Procter and Gamble’s has been affiliated with UNICEF for decades and the list is endless. The time has come for the sport of wrestling to become one under the IFW banner so it can speak for the sport in matters of sponsorships, charities, causes and our overall health. No one else can do it to the level they can.

“Awesome! Tradition is one thing, but it’s time our sport evolves. Very well said Wade!”

Chesty Franks, Fairfax, Virginia

Develop a philosophy and consumer first attitude that puts spectators before coaches, athletes and the sports leadership. Too often those of us in wrestling have either forgotten or haven’t been taught the importance of the spectator; not by our words but through our actions. The sport doesn’t think twice about allowing coaches, athletes and non-working officials to crowd around mats at events so they can watch the action while forgetting that the sport has paying spectators who are in the stands who would like to see something other than the backs of those who are inconsiderate.

And God help the event director who tries to ask those who feel special to politely find seats. He’s met with such distain and hostility and feelings of entitlement that the logic behind this is beyond words. “We’ll stand where we want!”

Coaches don’t look at spectators as being the sports life blood or they wouldn’t schedule dual meet team tournaments, Quadangular’s or even Triangular’s that last the better part of a day. But they do anyway because they want matches for their wrestlers more than they care about revenue production. Then they’re absolutely shocked when their administrators drop the sport as a result of their selfish thought processes and expenses overshadowing income.

If those who buy tickets were actually important the coaches would insist that the NCAA develop a consumer management team whose sole responsibility is to evaluate their events from a spectator’s point of view. They would begin by developing a line-of-sight directive that promises spectators will not miss one moment of action due to poor placement of mats, clocks, tables, chairs, the media, coaches or medical personnel. They need to designate the middle two mats at tournaments as tennis’s equivalent of “Center Court” where the highest ranked wrestlers would be assigned their matches. Silly me but I happen to believe we should showcase those that are known for exceptional performances?

If spectators were important, all events would have at least one concession stand open at every competition and begin the event on time, as advertised. They’d have cheerleaders, programs and most importantly to our female guests, lavatories that are unlocked, clean and maintained throughout the event.

The sport would half halftimes with entertainment and we’d discontinue time-consuming pre-match lineups and introductions. Any information the spectators need to learn about a wrestler they can read in the program or hear an abbreviated version of from the announcer as the athletes begin their match.

There’s no question in my mind that each of you could add quite a few suggestions to this spectator comes first list. It’s really a sad state of affairs when we don’t have those who should know better overseeing what we do.

Basically, if you want spectators you have to have something they want to see. If you want to produce revenue you need spectators to buy tickets, eat concession stand food and purchase program merchandise. If you want corporate sponsors, you need to be able to demonstrate the level of support you enjoy as a result of your spectator numbers. If you want broadcast media and the press to be in attendance you have to have spectators and sponsors. Without spectators, sponsors, media and press; you don’t have a sport. It’s pretty basic.

“While most of the folks involved with wrestling act like non swimmers about to go under for the last time, you throw them a life preserver. BRAVO WADE!!”

James Hagen, Oregon State Alumni

Allow athletes to “Double Up” 3 times a year. (Chapter 7) Wrestling needs to create a lot more heroes and legends like baseball has done with Babe Ruth, boxing with Joe Louis and Mohammad Ali and basketball with legends such as Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. We need to find ways to make our stars just as well known to the general public as the other sports have done. Here’s my suggestion of accomplishing that . . .

I hope you’re sitting down for this addition to Wade’s Way of revitalizing the sport.

Wrestling should seriously consider allowing wrestlers to compete in two weight classes during a dual meet; but no more than 3 times a season.

Yes, you read that right, it’s called Doubling Up. I’m sure it’ll create as much buzz with the media and our fans as it is doing in your head right now. Doubling Up would be huge for the sport and here’s how.

Just think how many people would buy a ticket to the Cleveland Cavaliers when LeBron James was playing if they knew he was only going to be in the game for seven minutes? How about a similar question regarding Rhonda Rousey? How many of you would have paid $250.00 for a ticket to her last championship fight if you knew it was only going to last 14 seconds?

Both answers are obvious, so why is it acceptable that we keep our franchise athletes on the bench for 90% of a dual meet; or worse yet 95% of the evening’s event given these stars seldom wrestle half a match before ending it with a pin or a technical fall?

In business you wouldn’t pull your best salesman off the road after the first hour of the day and you can’t win the hearts of spectators when your flagship athletes spends 95% of the evening on the bench. If we want to develop hero’s and legends that the media will pick up on, what better way than to have David Taylor go out and decision Oklahoma’s Tyler Caldwell and Andrew Howell back to back. Wouldn’t that be worthy of a feature article in Sports Illustrated and then a guest appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines?

So why not; please don’t say it’s a safety issue. You have to be kidding!

If wrestlers are as tough as we tell everyone they are, that we’re in better shape than any other athlete on the planet, how can football and soccer players go for 2-hours, marathon runners for 26 miles and wrestlers for “safety sake” can only wrestle 7 minutes?

How many matches do coaches make their team wrestle every day in practice back to back to back to back without a break? No one has ever died from 45 minutes of non-stop wrestling and I’d bet medical evidence would show nothing but positive effects from those cardio-vascular experiences. So how bad can 14 minutes of competition be when it’s less than a third of what wrestlers go through every day in practice and its one minute less than the length of an undercard bout in the UFC.

I realize what I’m professing here violates our sports rule relative to the 30 minute rest period. But let me ask, “Who came up with 30 minutes in the first place?” I don’t mean the organization, what was the name of the person who saddled us with that number? I’d like to challenge him to produce any medical documentation that supports what he’s made us live with for decades. I’d be willing to bet he can’t and I have a strong feeling he just made the number up.

Sometimes it’s really tough to understand how completely obstinate the wrestling community can be about almost everything we do or things that are suggested and Doubling Up will be just another example. Yet they never question that which is already etched in stone regardless if it makes no sense at all and will fight to the death anyone who suggests something different. Folks; Doubling Up is nothing new in sports so let’s not ruffle our rooster tails. It happens in tennis where an exceptional athlete can represent his team in both singles and doubles competition. Track and Field and Swimming and Diving allow their athletes to participate in 4 different events per meet.

In Olympic competition, any athlete may participate in as many sports AND events as he or she can qualify for; there is no limit!

Football players are allowed to go both ways and play non-stop for the entire 2 hours if they’re good enough. But we have to worry about our athletes because they’re delicate wall flowers who can only manage 7 minutes of activity before having to sit down and rest. Are you kidding me; even basketball players are allowed to go non-stop for 2 hours. That should be enough said; making our athletes sit down to rest is simply laughable!

As to the reason behind limiting our athletes to Double Up only 3 times a season, I worry that coaches would be tempted to abuse the rule and take advantage of lesser athletes in their lineup who are a weight class above their team’s best wrestlers. Continually bumping young men out of the lineup after they’ve earned a varsity spot is wrong on so many levels.

Other solid reasons for Doubling Up are obviously the strategic value. Think how exciting it would be, all the decisions that coaches would have to make and all the tactical options that spectators get to discuss? Should Coach Robinson put Ness in for a second time and use one of his 3 Double Ups given Minnesota is down by 4 points with just 3 matches left? Or should Jay hold him back with the knowledge that he has Penn State, Iowa and Ohio State still on their schedule where he might be needed more? There are so many possibilities and strategies here that it becomes nirvana for armchair quarterbacks and a blessing for the shrewdest of coaches.

Doubling Up would also reduce forfeits; coaches would now have the option to push a wrestler up a weight class after competing in the lower one to fill a void they have in their lineup. Or we might even consider making it mandatory that any team who is surrendering a weight class must use the athlete directly below that weight to avoid the forfeit. Obviously such a rule wouldn’t fix a forfeit in the first weight class but anytime you can fix over 90% of a problem, why wouldn’t you?

Regarding the fine print; athletes can only move up and wrestle one weight class above their certified weight and when you think about it, how often will an athlete actually wrestle back to back matches? Given that both coaches can jumble the weight class order as you’ll read about next, I would imagine those who are doubling up would get a chance to rest at least 10 if not 30 minutes before being called back into battle. But if that doesn’t happen so what, either we are or aren’t the toughest athletes on the planet?

Alternate weight classes back and forth throughout dual meets. (Chapter 7) This is what makes Doubling Up so exciting, interesting and strategic; alternating weight classes. But not in the way you’re used to seeing. There will still be a flip of a coin before the meet with the winning coach selecting the first weight class to be contested. But after that bout ends the other coach gets to select the second weight class and back and forth it goes throughout the dual.

The twist that makes this so strategic for coaches and fun for the spectator is no one knows, other than the coach whose turn it is to select, which weight is going to wrestle next.

Think of the tactical value of who goes out on the mat next? Does the coach whose turn it is to select send his best wrestler out to stop the momentum the opposing team has built up or hold him in reserve for later? What weight class does a coach use after Logan Stieber just finished winning a close match against one of his better wrestlers? Should he jump a couple of weight classes and get Logan off the mat. Or should he challenge him with his 149 pounder while he’s somewhat fatigued or are the Buckeyes even going to use Logan a second time in this dual? Maybe the coach should jump to 197 pounds and try and take advantage of the one athlete on the other team’s bench who hasn’t been warming up? The possibilities are endless and that’s exactly what spectators love to see and argue the benefits of or stupidity regarding.

Do you see where this could go? Similar to military strategy, where and when do you attack; how do you take advantage of actual or perceived weaknesses in the opposing teams line up and which asset of yours do you throw into battle next?

These two alterations to the rules are so outstanding that they should be adopted automatically without debate.

Relative to our spectators, can you imagine the variety of opinions they’ll come up with regarding which weight should go next and what athlete should Double Up? This is so important to attracting and keeping new spectators. The more we compound the number of strategies that coaches have available to them the more we correspondingly engage those who are sitting in the stands. It’s important that we give the spectators the ability to outthink, at least in their minds, the coaches whose decisions determine the evening’s outcome. Armchair quarterbacks are a great thing in sports.

As to the naysayers, most will claim that not knowing what weight is going to go next isn’t fair to the opposing athlete. Why isn’t it fair? Anytime you make changes that are uniformly applied to all, then by definition, it’s fair to all. In basketball, doesn’t the coach yell down the bench, “Harris, get in there for Bradshaw!” Harris then says, “yes coach” and in he goes; no warm-up, no prior warning. The same happens in football, soccer and baseball. Seldom do athletes who are substituting for others know when they’re going to head into battle. Only in wrestling do we feel our athletes are so fragile that they need to be forewarned. There’s simply no physiological reason why this rule is bad and only because “we’ve never done it that way before” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.

Forfeits are arsenic to wrestling’s growth. (Chapter 9) There is little question that the sport must fix the issue of forfeits. There should be an exceptionally heavy consequence beyond 6 points for a team who can’t find a body to fill a weight class.

I’m sorry but I just don’t believe a team doesn’t have or can’t find someone to wrestle. It’s the coach who doesn’t want to take the time to find someone knowing a lesser replacement is probably going to get pinned anyway so why bother? I simply don’t believe any coach who says he can’t find someone to wrestle.

If the rules committee wanted to, they could pass legislation tomorrow that would stop all forfeits. All they’d have to do is say the team who forfeits a weight class also forfeits the dual meet. The individual matches would be still wrestled but the team outcome is already decided. I realize that might be a tad much to ask of the rules committee to swallow but the point is forfeits are that damaging to the sport. And if you think about it, there are other sports that already handle events that way and have similar rules; games are simply not played unless both teams have full lineups.

If the rules committee would adopt such a rule, I believe it would take coaches maybe 14 seconds to find someone they could insert into their lineup. The point is if something is worth doing, legislation can accomplish it as long as the penalty is greater than the benefit of breaking the rule is advantageous. If I were handed a magic rule producing wand, I’d handle this as I wrote in the section on team scoring, forfeits would be 15 points and a pin 10 points. Penalties always have to be stiffer than the benefits of ignoring them.

It’s important to remind everyone that when there’s a forfeit, the offending coach is basically breaching a legal contract spectators have with the host school to provide a set number of matches for the price of admission. Go to a football game and you’re promised, and receive 4 quarters of action. 9 innings in baseball and 3 quarters plus several fights in hockey. But in wrestling we’re allowed to cheat our spectators and do it regularly along with a “so what” attitude.

There must be additional costs beyond a 6 point penalty for those who forfeit. Wrestling cannot grow as a sport when we knowingly choose to shortchange customers. That behavior tears at the basic tenet of customer service and to think it’s somehow okay is to be sadly mistaken.

“I wanted to let you know how impressed I’ve been with what you’ve written. I was ready to see what you had to say as short sighted, but to my surprise it wasn’t! The challenge will be in the execution of your plan and if you need help, count me in.”  

Doug Mitchell, PA  

Create a new way of starting matches from standing and in the down positions. (Chapter 9) I believe we should eliminate all starting lines. We need to reduce the number of cautions that spectators endure and minimize the amount of time it takes referee’s to get matches started.

I understand the reasoning behind cautions and they are necessary for pre-mature starts but we need to find ways to speed everything up while adding strategic interplay.

In the standing position, as long as the two athletes are somewhere close to the middle of the mat, facing one another and ready to defend themselves the referee should blow his whistle. International wrestling has done this for as far back as I can remember (which is decades) and it definitely shortens the time it takes to complete a match. Having to stand with one foot on a colored line is nothing more than time consuming drool that kills spectator appeal.

I have to believe that referees would not only agree but do backflips if this passed because they hate cautions more than spectators dislike having to endure them.

To help clarify this, athletes in the standing position can be 2 feet away from one another or 6 feet away. As long as they are facing one another, somewhere inside the 12 foot circle and ready to go the match should start. This is so easy to administer and it’s worked for decades very successfully internationally so what’s the issue?

Relative to down wrestling I have to warn you the following proposal is off the charts even for me but I still love it.

The bottom man in the defensive position can assume any position he wishes, as long as both his hands and knees are touching the mat. He can crouch down if he wishes, lie on his belly if he wants, put his hands next to his knees or learn back and place his hands next to his ankles with his chest pointing up if that’s what floats his boat. Any position is legal as long as his hands and knees are touching the mat. And no, nothing has to be 12 inches apart.

To start the match after the bottom man is set, the top man places the palms of his hands on any part of the defensive man’s body. And as it is in international wrestling, as soon as the palms of the offensive man touch his opponent, the match should start.

As to the placement of those hands, the offensive man could put them on his opponents back like you see in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, or on the underside of each ankle, or both palms on his opponent’s chest or one on an arm and the other somewhere on his opponent’s neck. There are no off limits except the obvious eyes, nose, throat, mouth and certain boy parts.

As to the positioning of the offensive man’s body, he could be on one knee or both. He could be standing behind his opponent or off to one side or in front of him. He could even straddle him like he’s riding a horse if he wanted as long as the only thing that’s touching the down wrestler when the referee starts the match are the palms of his hands.

What’s so special about all these possible starting positions is the myriad of offensive and defensive opportunities that are created; not to mention the dozens of new strategies they present? The silent buzz coming from the stands over this would be deafening.

As to the athletes themselves, this allows them to devise their own unique styles and individual plans of attack and subsequent counters for the expected and unexpected. What great fun this rule would be to watch develop with the obvious benefit of less cautions and shorter dual meets.

Starting positions should be creative and give athletes complete control over their destiny. We don’t tell wrestlers how to stand in the up position or mandate that they wrestle solely in the down position so why is it acceptable to tell them how they need to get set? Each athlete should be allowed to be innovative and resourceful, the fans would love it.

New and Improved; the sport must find ways to generate enough revenue to engage the equivalent of a New York City advertising firm for the purpose of developing a national marketing campaign for wrestling. This should be the job of the National Wrestling Association to do, which doesn’t exist yet or the International Fraternity of Wrestlers which does because no one else has it on their plate.

For those who haven’t heard of the IFW (www.ifwrestlers.org), it’s a relatively new nonpartisan, membership driven organization whose goal is to strengthen the wrestling community by fighting for the issues that matter most to our survival.

It’s to wrestling what the AARP is to retired people and the NRA is to gun owners. Everyone who has ever wrestled, coached or officiated is eligible to join, and should because someone has to become the marketing and promotional arm for wrestling and either the NWA or the IFW is the logical choice. But neither can be accomplished without YOU.

Besides our individual efforts, the sport has to actually become New and Improved if we’re to survive. Wrestling needs to do things vastly different than they’ve been doing. Whether it’s incorporating a few of my suggestions or someone else’s; the point is substantial change is required for a national marketing campaign to be successful. The public must be made aware of our existence and then become curious enough by what we’ve done to check us out.

We need to focus on changing as many aspects of wrestling as we can that affects action, supports our New and Improved claim and places the spectator above all else. The more we can do to convince the public that wresting is undergoing change the better chance we have of actual change.

I hope you can see how all of this is tied together? One part without others is the same as building a boat but forgetting to add a helm or make its exterior water tight.  

It’s time to lose the name Amateur Wrestling. It’s not the word wrestling that bothers me, it’s the use of the word amateur that according to Thesaurus means substandard, clumsy, crude, inept, unprofessional. They’re not the type of words an advertising agency would select to work with if given a choice.

So before we spend a lot of money on our New and Improved marketing campaign, the word amateur has to disappear forever. We should all say when people ask us what sport we participated in; we should simply say wrestling. It’s a small but yet powerful change because there’s nothing amateur about what we do on the mats just as there’s nothing professional about what the WWE does other than the way they handle marketing, promotions, customer service and deposits.

We need to think of ourselves as wrestlers, not amateur wrestlers.

Marketing outside of the sport. There isn’t a time when wrestlers get together that we don’t talk about the greatness of the sport. From its historical significance of Gilgamesh and Jacob wrestling an angel to Abe Lincoln.

But if we’re to become special in other people’s eyes, we have to make a concerted effort to tell those outside of wrestling about our specialness. That’s where the IFW comes into play and why I’d like to ask each of you to become members. No one else in wrestling is set up to market the sport like the IFW.

“First let me say, “How Wrestling Wins” is inspired. I have not been able to stop reading. Having just read the chapter regarding parity and the previous chapters regarding dropping tournaments and focusing on duals you couldn’t be more right.”

Brian McGuinty

Create a Wrestlers in Business Network group in your area. If wrestling is ever to climb back into relevance as a sport it must identify each one of its challenges and find ways to address them collectively.

One such challenge is to find a way of reengaging hundreds of thousands of men and women who wrestled at one time but have since moved on in their professional careers. Wrestler’s in Business is the answer.

Led by the very capable John Licata, WIB has grown tremendously over the last two years to become the preeminent business organization for wrestling with chapters in over a dozen states.

Similar to a community service club, the WIBN offers its members the opportunity to make valuable contacts and long-term friendships with others of similar backgrounds. The WIBN is the ideal word-of-mouth organization for those looking to generate additional activity in their own businesses.

What makes the WIBN different from other networking groups who are completely donor based is they ask their members to consider the sport when they benefit from their relationships within the group.

On the sport side, the organizations main goal is to support the various wrestling programs in each chapter’s geographical area. They accomplish that by offering each program a political umbrella of professional support while mentoring coaches who request help in areas they might not have a lot of expertise.

Recently the sport was successful in getting the wrestling program at Cleveland State reinstated and it was the WIBN who through the use of their collective skill sets swayed the discussions in our favor.

You owe it to the sport to read more about Wrestler’s In Business and consider becoming a member or starting a chapter in your area. The sport needs the help, it needs your support; you’re our most valuable asset. www.wrestlersinbusiness.org

In closing; I’d like to thank each of you for supporting How Wrestling Wins regardless of your personal or political views. The whole effort has been personally rewarding and hugely successful with over 600,000 unique hits in the last 6 months. Just knowing you care enough to endure my thoughts tells me the sport has a chance.

But survival means we have to stop fighting one another over the sports ever shrinking pie and decide on a course of action. Wrestling may be an individual sport but as long as we allow individuals with specific agendas to administer it, there won’t be but crumbs left in a couple of years.

I’ll leave you with this; what’s true isn’t always believable, and what’s believable isn’t always true. So question all you hear and believe half of what you see. That way you’ll be close to right 50% of the time.

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6 thoughts on “How Wrestling Wins – Chapter 18

  1. Wade–That’s a well-written and informed read, all 140+ pages with many, many good ideas. Given the finite capacity of large organizations to adopt and implement change, what are your top three in rank order? It might be possible to rally the community around such a list.

    • I’d love to be able to list a top three and I understand why you asked. But I’m afraid I only have one and here it is:

      Wrestling is standing at the crossroads of relevance. The sport no longer has the luxury of tweaking a rule here and a rule there each season. We have to demonstrate to our fans and those new spectators whom we don’t know who they are yet that we “get it.”

      We have to catch up to the way society views sports. Wrestling is so far removed from that equation that we can’t even be found with a set of binoculars.

      With that said, if I must, here is my top three:

      1) Move spectators to the front of the line in everything we think and do. Nothing wrestling does places them where they should be, at the center of our universe. The sport has forgotten that their attendance pays our bills, the coaches salaries and their numbers determines the level of media coverage we’re given not to mention the clout we have with our administrators. By our continued willingness to ignore them, we sew the seeds of our own demise.

      To accomplish this we must create a consumer manifesto that outlines the direction we have to go for the purpose of reengaging those whom we lost while attracting those who have yet to find the sport.

      2) Change the scoring system from that which encourages the current “slow down” approach to winning to one that incentivizes coaches to push their athletes beyond their comfort levels. That’s my “a point scored is a point earned” system that the state high school league in Virginia recently adopted as an optional scoring system.

      3) Doubling up . . . allowing athletes to wrestle 2 weight classes a dual meet up to 3 times a season and pair that with the coaches alternating the selection of the weight classes throughout dual meets.

    • Ted,

      You’re right. Wrestling does have people who understand the sport. They know exactly what it will take to pull us out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves.

      The problem is none of them are in positions of administrative power within the sport, but they are in far greater positions of power outside of the sport.

      The sports goal should be to find a way to put some of these individuals together in a room and let them create a blue print for wrestling’s success.

      Only when we get those who know, based on their personal successes, overshadowing those in wrestling who aren’t being successful based on their track records, will we begin to move forward.

      Wade

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