This will be, or could be, the most important rule change the sport has ever adopted, or rejected, and it’s so logical that it’s beyond comprehension how we could have overlooked it.
The current system of receiving 3 team points for a decision, 4 points for a major, 5 points for a tech, and 6 points for a fall is so bad, I can’t even begin to think of a word to describe the lunacy.
Whoever came up with this system of scoring had to have been a closet socialist. Win by 1-point and you receive 3-team points. Win by 7-points and you receive 3-team points. What ever happened to capitalism and the idea of rewarding the producer?
What we’ve been doing for decades is simply socialistic, and at the basis for our decline; take from the producer so you can reward those who don’t. And with this system, the producer always ends up . . . producing less.
Can anyone name a sport, any sport, that has a point system like ours?
I can just hear the coaches about a point earned; “it’s unfair, I don’t like it.”
But is that really a bad thing?
Wrestling has to make rules that benefit spectators, not the individuals who coach. For those who question this, I might ask; “how’s the current system working for us?” In 1911, Frank Gotch and George Hackenschmidt wrestled in front of 30,000 fans in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, and today we average less than 1,000 fans per dual to watch 10 times as many bouts.
And, if I can mention the UFC for a moment? They are a little over 20 years old, and their company is worth several billion dollars. It’s a mega sport. How’d that happen? Collegiate wrestling is 5 times older and we’re still begging for scraps? And the why is simple; wrestling is boring! In the UFC, fighters throw punches every 2.5 seconds. In wrestling, our athletes take shots every 2.5 minutes.
Okay, enough. Here’s the fine print of a Point Earned is a Point Scored.
We need to retire the thought process of having 3, 4, 5, and 6-point match outcomes. Instead we change to . . . every point an athlete scores, is a team point recorded.
If wrestler A wins by a score of 7-5. Wrestler A’s team receives 7 team points and wrestler B’s team receives 5 points. Reward the producer and the producer will produce more.
Now for the fine print; forfeits are worth 15 team points because that’s the same number of points a person can receive for a tech fall in the current system. So, when wrestler A receives a forfeit, wrestler A’s team receives 15 team points; the opposing team receives 0 points.
For the five levels of disqualifications; Flagrant Misconduct, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Unnecessary Roughness, Illegal Holds and Stalling: 15 team points are added to the winner’s bout score. If wrestler A is winning 5-4 at the time of wrestler B being disqualified, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 4 team points. No one wants to see an athlete get disqualified, but if he does, there should be a large enough penalty that dissuades him from doing it again.
Injury default: 15 team points are added to the winner’s bout score. If wrestler A is winning 5-4 at the time of wrestler B being injured, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 4 team points.
Pins: 15 team points are added to the winner’s bout score. Notice the consistency here, 15 points for all of these bout ending situations. So, if wrestler A is winning 5-4 at the time of wrestler B being pinned, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 4 team points.
Tech falls are just like they are now, any 15-point separation. If wrestler A is ahead by the score of 20-5 the match ends with wrestler A’s team receiving 20 team points and wrestler B’s team receiving 5 team points.
I’m sure this raises a few eyebrows . . . and I’ll try and address everyone’s concerns as you read.
The benefits of this change in scoring is immense.
- There are no additional risks to athlete safety with this system.
- There is no additional training that’s necessary for officials with this system.
- There’s no additional costs to the schools with this system.
- It doesn’t change who’s going to win; it just changes by how much.
- It encourages scoring, which means action, which means excitement. Re-read that again.
- It allows every wrestler to contribute to the team score even in a losing effort.
- It pushes both athletes to score points right up to the end of a match regardless of who’s ahead, who’s behind, or by how much.
- It logically increases the number of pins by virtue of higher scoring.
- It severely discourages stalling because even in a losing effort a last second escape actually means a lot to a team’s total.
- It allows a team who’s losing rather badly to possibly come back and win the dual. Come from behind victories are the sweetest events in spectators lives, and keeps fans in their seats right up to the very end.
- It makes the sport easy to understand for those who are new to wrestling, because this system of scoring is what they see in all the other sports.
- It seriously discourages forfeits and bad behavior on the part of the athletes which are positive outcomes, especially given the number of times we see forfeits cheating spectators out of that which was promised – 10 matches for the price of admission.
- And, with larger team scores, the chance of two teams tying is nearly impossible as is having to explain to the spectators our complicated system of tie-breaking.
Our current system has slowly eroded scoring to the point that winning is all about who can make the least amount of mistakes and take the least amount of shots. Consequently, low scoring matches with one or two points separating the combatants has become the norm. It’s this defensive posturing that has quietly ground down spectator interest in our sport while keeping new fans at home.
Granted the sport has more than a few issues, but the most important one that must be addressed before all others is a lack of individual scoring. A point earned is a huge change for wrestling, something that will obviously create a great deal of controversy, most of it coming from the coaches. The source of their objections will center on the fear they have that they might lose to a team that had previously been a walk over. But that won’t happen, at least in the long run because coaches know how they won in the past and will adjust accordingly.
Please remember, a vast majority of wrestlers don’t care what the score is when the final buzzer sounds, as long as they have their hand raised. So the athletes don’t have a dog in the fight, and I don’t blame them for low scoring, and often boring matches. It’s the rules they’re playing to and if it is action we want, we need to change the rules the athletes are playing to.
In every other sport, a point earned is a point registered. So why is wrestling different? Can you imagine basketball waiting to the end of a game to tally the team scores? How crazy would it be to give a player 5-team points if he scores between 10 and 15 points and 10 team points if he scores between 15 to 30 points? But that’s what wrestling does? How about a quarterback who throws for 3 touchdowns and the scoreboard only gives him credit for 1 at the end of the game? Serve 3 aces in tennis and look up to see the score is only 15-Love. Hit a bases loaded home run and only get credit for your run, not the other three. Or winning in Rugby 27-23 and your team receives 10 team points for scoring 27 and your opponent loses all 23 of their points because they lost. Sound crazy, yep, but it is exactly what we do in wrestling. So where’s the incentive?
And, does anyone remember the outcry from basketball coaches when the 30-second clock was implemented? They almost lost their minds. That was, until the fans fell in love with it and the average winning score moved from the fifties and sixties and surpassed the century mark.
With this new rule there’s now a strong impetus for athletes to fight to get off the bottom with 15 seconds left in a match, even if they’re losing 9-3. And conversely, there are tremendous incentives for the dominant wrestler to keep scoring points right up until the end of the match. If the athlete doesn’t understand this, I’m sure his coach will remind him of the importance of scoring as often as he can, probably with a very loud voice and a foot up his athlete’s butt.
If we’re to make significant changes to wrestling relative to scoring, athletes need to know that each point they earn makes a difference. They also need to feel that the sport respects them enough and the chances they take to make this change.
So let’s say for the sake of argument that a team wins a dual meet by the score of 126 to 122. And one of the winning team’s wrestlers lost his individual bout 10-5. How valuable do you think he feels knowing that his 5 points made the difference in the outcome of the match? How vocal do you think his teammates were when he was wrestling a better opponent, knowing that every point he scored could make the difference? Peer pressure is a wonderful thing.
Currently, when an athlete is losing 12-4 in the third period with 1:15 left, the match is basically over and the atmosphere in the arena is anemic. The person with 4 points has given up and the one with 12 is just riding out the period. As for the spectators, they’re talking among themselves about what they’re going to do after the match, or maybe they’re wondering why they came? But when every point counts, coaches are screaming, fans are cheering and the athletes are scrambling as a result of the pressure to produce. None of this can be a bad thing.
Tournaments should be scored the same, but maybe that’s a discussion for another day.
I doubt there would be any upsets early on with this rule but if there were, by the following year the pecking order of teams would return to normal. Again, successful coaches know how they became successful and will continue being that way regardless of the rules.
As for the fans, what’s not to like about more scoring? This rule alteration completely eliminates the challenge we currently have trying to explain what regular decisions, majors and technical falls are to the sports newcomers. As to the referee’s; which one wouldn’t embrace any rule change that increased scoring and reduced the number of stalling calls they had to make?
Now if anyone is concerned about those teams that have 2 pinners and 8 average wrestlers defeating a team with 10 good wrestlers they should be. But think about this; how is this scoring system any different than America’s major sports? One 6’ 11” basketball star in high school surrounded by 4 average players has a legitimist shot at winning the state championships. A great running back or quarterback can carry a so-so football team through the playoffs. An outstanding tennis player will compete in both singles and doubles and account for 30 percent of a team’s score. One good pitcher in baseball surrounded by 8 average players will defeat 8 good players with an average pitcher. Just because this is different from what we’ve grown accustomed to in wrestling, which is the reason why the slowdown approach to scoring has persisted, doesn’t mean the change isn’t worth making.