So how do we get to sustainability? One of the first things wrestling should consider is returning to being a Dual Meet Centric sport. The why is simple; spectators and audiences only engage in activities that, on average, requires 2 hours to complete.
So why does wrestling believe so religiously that Tri’s, Quad’s and Tournaments are the way to showcase our sport? An easy answer is; it’s what the coaches want. They need their athletes to accumulate as many matches as they can. They know that the more times each athlete walks on the mat, the more experienced they become regardless of what it costs their programs, or the sport, in terms of injuries, grades or spectator appeal. It’s the way you win championships under the current system, and that’s exactly what they’re paid to do.
Granted, newcomers to wrestling may sit longer the first time they attend a match out of courtesy, but all that does is give them more time to realize they have no interest in returning. You can’t win the hearts of spectators when you break the 2-hour rule.
Now before you condemn the idea of wrestling becoming a dual meet sport, answer this question. How many spectators would an NFL game, a Billy Joel concert or a Steven Spielberg movie attract if they started at 9am and ended at 10pm? So why anyone would think that wrestling marathons are good ideas with far less entertainment appeal if the most critical aspect of our sport is spectators?
Think youth soccer; your daughters game starts at noon, and everyone is at Dairy Queen by 2. Movies are 2-hours in length, eating out is roughly a 2-hour affair as are concerts and plays.
Now I’ll relinquish the fact that Tri’s and Quad’s aren’t quite as bad as tournaments but to ask people to carve out 6 hours of their always busy day for something that isn’t fun, or employment based, is ridiculous.
If we’re to become relevant as a sport and revenue producing, wrestling has to become a dual meet sport. Athletes won’t die if they only have 25 match seasons but the sport will if coaches continue to insist on 50 match seasons. And I don’t mean that coaches can now schedule 3 back to back dual meets on a Saturday afternoon to skirt around the rule. One dual per day, preferably wrestled in the evening.
Why; because everything we do in wrestling must be spectator centric and designed to make a positive impact on revenue production. That’s the only way we can work our way toward sustainability? And coaches, when we do, your salaries will double. If you’re not interested in that, ask your wife. I’m sure she’ll explain the importance of it to you.