After you read the following, if you agree with me, or have found what I wrote was interesting, may I ask you to share it with others?
InterMat this past two weeks, did 21 stories on dual meets and triangulars, and listed the results on their home page. But only two of the articles mentioned the number of fans that were in attendance; Iowa State, ranked 7th in the country, with a little over 1100 spectators to watch the Cyclones defeat in state, Division III powerhouse Wartburg. And North Carolina State, ranked 5th in the country, with 60 fans for a home match, with another instate rival, Appalachian State.
Wake up coaches.
With two Top Ten teams, averaging less than 600 fans between them, one must wonder what the numbers were for the other 19 meets that didn’t mention they had any fans at all?
As would be logical, if someone has something that’s positive in their life, they’ll find a way to get the word out. In the absence of positive, one must assume the opposite is true; and in this case, the numbers were too small to say.
I understand we’re in a pandemic, and we shouldn’t expect a lot of wrestling fans. But, on the positive side of things, if there’s a match to be had, given everyone is itching to get out of their homes, and given that the institutions themselves have said it’s safe to wrestle, then it must be safe to watch as well.
But these lack of spectator numbers, and all mention of numbers, happened last season, the season before that, and the decade before that. So, it’s just not this year.
This is exactly how programs get dropped. It’s a simple question; are we contributing to the athletic departments coffers, or are we helping deplete them?
Programs aren’t going away because of sub-standard academic performances, which we have our share of, it’s not about Title IX, social discord or the number of athletic injuries that’s doing us in, all of which doesn’t help the cause; it’s a lack of revenue production.
If we are ever going to pull our noses out of the tail spin we’re in, we must achieve financial sustainability, and that will only occur with fans that buy tickets.
Nothing else will do it; unless Jeff Bezos suddenly passes and wills his fortune to be evenly distributed between every collegiate wrestling program in the country.
We should demand that every press release that’s sent to InterMat, WIN, Amateur Wrestling News, Trackwrestling and the like; include the number of fans in attendance or the event won’t receive coverage.
Only when this happens, will we begin to see for ourselves, how bad our situation is, and how grossly ineffective our sport is being managed. Only when we see what each Athletic Director sees, and feels; will we have any chance of turning things around.
Think about it, either a) wrestling isn’t a very good spectator sport, or it is, and b) it’s being mismanaged. I’m afraid there isn’t an option c).
The problem is, we’re so use to non-existent numbers that we’ve become oblivious to the pain that the countries athletic departments are feeling.
Yet, when I mention this, those who decide our fate have the temerity to remind everyone how wrong I am . . . “what is he talking about, look how many fans Penn State and Iowa attract for their dual meets. And every year, the NCAA Championships are sold out.”
That may be true, but what of the other 400 colleges that we have left, out of the 900 we once had? What of their bottom lines?
I know, I beat this drum a lot. But the only way things change is if those who love the sport, begin to openly, not only question leadership, but make their voices be heard.
Every Athletic Director in America, who has a wrestling program, should sit down with their head coach and inform them that starting next season, their salary will be 25K plus 50% of all ticket sales, up to a maximum of 500k.
That’ll get things turned around in a hurry.
Why not, if the sport is important enough to save, then it’s important enough to make those whose decisions effect the sport directly; accountable. Right now, all the wrestling coaches are interested in, is winning matches, and that’s foolish, with a small f.
Every head coach must be the CEO, CIO and CFO of his or her program. That means being responsible for every aspect of the sport. And without fulfilling the responsibilities of the CFO, eventually, there’s no need for a CEO, because the company is out of business.
If I’m off base here, we wouldn’t be one of the fastest declining D-I sport in America.
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For those who haven’t seen it, this Sports Illustrated article below covers the finances of college sports in today’s market place, and covers why non-revenue sports are disappearing?
To feel the full effect of what wrestling is enduring, when the writer mentions any of the many non-revenue sports, just insert the word wrestling and you’ll quickly understand what we’re facing.
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Interestingly, I just received this from one of the sport’s most notable leaders whom I showed this blog to before posting. This was his response:
EVERYTHING IS BROKEN.
There’s things that need to be developed from the top down.
There’s things that need to be implemented from the bottom up.
College teams have the most to lose, so are unlikely innovators.
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On a very positive note, my congratulations to Representative Jim Jordan who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump this past Monday in a closed-door ceremony at the White House.
Two wrestlers in one year, so proud to have been a part of the sport.
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Recently, we lost wrestling’s legend of legends, the pioneer of everything that’s right about our sport; Danny Hodge.
What a great man; he was iconic and kind, generous and full of life. He was wrestling equivalent of football’s John Heisman, whose name is forever linked to championship performances.
Unfortunately, at the same time of Danny’s passing, two other Hall of Famers, from different sports, passed away. Floyd Little from football, and basketball’s Paul Westphal, both great men, both legends in their own right.
I mention this because the only reason we know about Danny’s passing is the coverage given to it by our sport.
Our leaders and the institutions they represent, either refuse, or they’re unaware of what could be achieved by forming one overarching body of leadership, that oversees the entire sport.
Currently, each organization gets to enjoy the perks of power without any responsibility to, or leadership of, that power.
If I’d blame USAWrestling about their ineffective media department, condemning them for not being able to get any of the national news outlets to mention, even a short blurb about Danny’s passing, they’d say that wasn’t their responsibility. And they’d be right.
If I said the same thing about the NWCA, they’d say it wasn’t their responsibility, and they’d be right.
The same is true for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the NCWA, the National High School Association, the NCAA Rules Committee etc.; and they’d be right too.
The issue is, once again, our leaders and the institutions they represent, either refuse, or they’re unaware of what could be achieved by forming one overarching body of leadership, that oversees us all.
Every one of the major professional sports have done that, and so has the NCAA; at least for football and basketball.
And this is why, beginning next week, I will post parts of previous blogs that will list my Top 10 Changes the sport needs to seriously consider, that is, if we’re to stabilize the downward trend we’re seeing.