#2 Doubling Up

We should take a close look at allowing athletes to “Double Up” 3 times a year; but only if we want to create more heroes and legends like baseball did with Babe Ruth, boxing with Mohammad Ali and basketball with Michael Jordan. We need super stars who are just as well-known in our sport as those athletes are in theirs. Ask anyone on the street if they know the name Jordan Burroughs, John Smith or Bruce Baumgartner and watch the blank stares. Point made.

Here’s a suggestion for working toward that goal.

Wrestling should allow its athletes to compete in two weight classes during a dual meet; but no more than 3 times a season.

It’s called Doubling Up and I’m sure this will create as much buzz in the media and with our fans as it is doing in your head right now. Doubling Up would be huge for the sport and here’s how it works; and why?

Just think, how many people would buy a ticket to a Los Angeles Lakers game when they knew that LeBron James was only going to be playing for the first four minutes of the game? How about a similar question regarding Tom Brady? What would the television ratings be like during the last three quarters of the Super Bowl as Brady continued to warm the bench?

Both answers are obvious, so why is it acceptable that we keep our franchise athletes off the mat for a minimum of 90% of every dual meet, and quite possibly 95% given these stars seldom wrestle a full match?

In business, you wouldn’t pull your best salesman off the road after the first hour of the day? Then why does that make sense in wrestling?

If we want to develop hero’s and legends that the media will swoon over, what better way than to have Dalton Fix go out and decision Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young and then stay out on the mat and do the same thing to Nick Lee? If that happened, wouldn’t it be worthy of a feature article in Sports Illustrated and a guest appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines?

Allowing athletes to “Double Up” 3 times a year is a winning idea, something the sport needs more of; but remember, each athlete can only do it 3 times a season.

So why only 3 times if it’s such a good idea?

Because the unintended consequence of such a rule. Coaches would be tempted to take advantage of lesser athletes in their lineup who are one 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.

What about the safety of the athletes who are doubling up? Would we be overtaxing a wrestler’s system making him wrestle for 14 minutes?

No; and hell no.

If athletes can play football, or soccer for 2 hours, and marathoners can run for over 4 hours, why can’t wrestlers go for 14 minutes? Don’t we always profess that our athletes are the toughest on the planet?

And if we do the numbers, don’t coaches make their athletes wrestle back to back to back to back matches in practice every day without a break? And no one has ever died from 45 minutes of non-stop wrestling. Besides, I’d bet medical evidence would show that such cardio experiences are good for the human body. So how bad can 14 minutes be when it’s less than a third of what wrestlers go through in practice and one minute less than an undercard fight in the UFC?

I realize what I’m professing here violates our sports rule relative to the 30-minute rest period. But, who came up with 30-minutes in the first place? I don’t mean the organization, but what’s the name of the person who saddled us with that time frame? I’d like to challenge him, or her, to produce any medical documentation that supports what we’ve had to live with for decades. My gut says, whoever it was, made up the number.

Sometimes it’s really tough to understand how completely obstinate our sports leadership can be about anything that’s suggested, and Doubling Up will be just another example. Yet they never question anything that’s already etched in stone, regardless if it makes sense or not.

Folks; Doubling Up in sports is nothing new so let’s not get our tail feathers ruffled. 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 the Olympics, any athlete may participate in as many sports, or events, as he or she can qualify for; there’s no limit.

Football players are allowed to go both ways and play non-stop for the entire 2 hours of a game if they’re good enough. But we have to worry about our athletes because they’re such delicate wall flowers that they need to sit down and rest after 7 minutes.

Are you kidding me; even basketball players are allowed to go non-stop for 2 hours? Making our athletes sit down and rest is simply laughable.

Another solid reason for Doubling Up is the strategic value. Think how exciting it would be for the spectators, and all the decisions that coaches have to make when this rule is in place?

Should Cael Sanderson put Lee in for a second time and use one of his 3 Double Ups given Penn State is down by 4 points as they move toward half time. Or should Cael hold him back with the knowledge that Penn State has Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State still on their schedule? There are so many possibilities and strategies here that it becomes nirvana for armchair quarterbacks, and a blessing for the shrewdest of coaches.

Regarding the fine print; athletes can move up one, or two weight classes above their certified weight to Double Up. Why not? Injuries, you have to be kidding me again? Don’t the rules in football allow a 140-pound running back to run at full speed into a 320-pound defensive lineman who’s also running at full speed toward him? But that’s okay, whereas wrestlers dare not believe they can move from 147 to 165 without risking permanent bodily harm. Hog wash.

Doubling Up could also help reduce forfeits. Coaches could push a wrestler up a weight class after competing in the lower one to fill a void they have in their lineup. 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. That’s assuming he has any of his 3 times a year left to use. Obviously, such a rule wouldn’t fix forfeiting the first weight class, but anytime you can fix 90 percent of a problem, why wouldn’t you do it?

What makes Doubling Up all the more interesting, and strategic, is when you combine it with Rule #3 in the next blog.

2 Comments

  • Art Donahoe says:

    Let’s change “dictator” to “overlord.” It’s better optics!

  • Alan Volkman says:

    Brilliant commentary, Wade! I watched Clarion face Oklahoma with Ed Onorato, after participating in the pre-match event between Behrend & Clarion “B”. Most recently saw your camp appearance at Cathedral Prep as a coach under Jeff Catrabone. I loved your playful nature with novices and the “OS” punchline to your demos. Your mind is nothing short of relentless! I wish a central organizing body could be put in place and you named benevolent dictator!

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