For this edition of How Wrestling Wins, I will attempt to put an end to the pandemic of forfeits, and then offer a suggestion regarding how we can improve wrestling’s pinning percentages.
I hope you’re sitting down . . .
To begin, I believe everyone would agree that we can’t allow forfeits to continue, they are the bane of our existence, and basically arsenic to the sports growth.
Besides demonstrating to the media and athletic administrators that we’re a dying sport; we cannot continue to cheat our fans out of matches that they have bought tickets to watch.
None of that can possibly be good for our sport.
Regarding the spectator; when forfeits take place, the offending coach is actually breaching a legal contract that spectators have with the host school to provide a set number of matches for the price of admission.
Cheating our fans out of what has been promised is simply a ghastly business practice.
When you go to a football game, aren’t you’re expecting 4 quarters of action? In baseball aren’t you anticipating 9 full innings of play? What about ice hockey; regardless of the score, you know you’re going to see three 20-minute periods of action, plus a fight or two.
But in wrestling, we seem to go out of our way to regularly cheat our guests; complete with a “we don’t care if you like it or not” attitude. If the rules committee actually cared about this, they’d do something.
Answer this please; how would you feel if you went to a restaurant, ordered a dozen oysters, paid for a dozen oysters; but were only given only nine oysters?
Isn’t that exactly what we do in wrestling?
Or, how about going to a movie and noticing that the projectionist has cut 20 minutes of action out of the middle of the film? Would that be a good business practice?
Isn’t that exactly what we do in wrestling?
As to fixing this issue, it’s simple. We attach such an exceptionally heavy consequence to the practice that overnight, the problem all but disappears. Here it is;
If a team forfeits a weight class, they also forfeit the dual meet. The dual meet still takes place, but the results of the match has already been determined.
The same rule would apply to tournaments.
Forfeit a weight class at a tournament, and your team is exempt from scoring points.
I love this idea. It’s simple to explain, simple to understand, and simple to administer. As we all know, change only occurs when penalties are created that are greater than the benefit of not having them are advantageous.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe a coach when he says he can’t find someone to fill a certain weight class, especially in college. Now I realize that isn’t always the case, but it’s more often the case than not.
The why is simple; coaches would prefer to forfeit a weight than put a warm body on the mat who will most likely get pinned. At least by forfeiting, they don’t have to watch the carnage, while losing team momentum.
What if both teams forfeit a weight class, or multiple weight classes? That’s simple too, they both take losses on their records.
Now I realize this might be a tad much for the rules committee to consider, but the point is, we need to do something more than we’re doing because forfeits have become far more the norm than the exception.
Now take a deep breath and think about this for a minute; is this proposal really that draconian? How many other sports are there that have even more stringent rules when it comes to being short the number of athletes it takes to fill a starting lineup? For them, and there are several sports I can think off right off the bat, the games aren’t even played. At least with what I’m proposing, it allows every wrestler who has an opponent the opportunity to compete.
Folks; we have to impose rules with substantial costs, for schools that forfeit weights, beyond the loss of 6 team points. Wrestling cannot grow when we knowingly choose to shortchange those who are in attendance, and demonstrate to the media and our administrators how desirable wrestling isn’t. That behavior tears at the fabric of customer service, and for us to think it’s somehow acceptable, is to be sadly mistaken.
This problem reminds me of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote; What you do speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying. We can tell the world about how great wrestling is, but a failing spectator base and growing number of forfeits reflects something else entirely.
How about another change to the current rules that goes like this; an athlete who’s being pinned, can’t be saved by the buzzer?
Here’s how I would write it if the rules committee wanted some help.
If an athlete is on his back when time expires at the end of any period, the match will continue until a pin occurs, OR the athletes are determined to be out of bounds, OR the official concludes a pin isn’t going to happen.
Again, using other sports as examples; in basketball, doesn’t a basket count when the buzzer sounds after the ball has left the players hand? That’s not the case in wrestling.
In football, isn’t a wide receiver allowed to score a touchdown after time has run out as long as the ball was snapped before the quarter ended? That’s not the case in wrestling.
In boxing, a fighter cannot be saved by the bell. But they can be in wrestling.
The point is; if the object of wrestling is to pin your opponent, shouldn’t we go out of our way to please our fans, and make that outcome easier to accomplish?
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.