Over the years, individual collegiate sports have been classified as either revenue or non-revenue; with wrestling being the latter. It’s been that way for over 100 years, and we still can’t figure out how to make a profit. What an embarrassment.
And, if I were to guess, I’d say that at least 80% of all collegiate wrestling programs bring in less than 20% of what they spend annually.
At the heart of our problem is the fact that more and more athletic departments are following our lead and becoming non-revenue themselves.
The commercial bonanza that awaits any school who can break into the Top 20 in football and basketball is so appealing, so financially addictive, that administrators all across the country have entered the reach for the golden ring arms race.
The outcomes of which are, 110 of the 130 Division I football teams, and 330 of the 350 Division I basketball teams, aren’t going to make it. That leaves a lot of institutions with red ink on their books.
To survive this, athletic administrators are looking to non-revenue sports for help. The economics of it is simple, if you reduce the number of children that are sitting at your table, your grocery bill goes down.
What does all this mean? Well, if we’re to successfully dodge bullets, wrestling has to become at least revenue-neutral. We don’t have to make money; we just can’t continue to lose money.
It’s simple math; if there’s no meat on our bones for administrators to feed on, they’ll turn to other non-revenue sports for the sustenance they require.
All this leads us to the sixty-four-dollar question; how does wrestling become revenue-neutral?
There’s only one way. And it’s not by finding additional donors; it’s by remembering that wrestling is a business, it’s not a charity. We need to re-imagine what wrestling can be and develop what we do in a way that has people wanting to buy tickets.
Don’t misunderstand, donor money is wonderful. But it only postpones the inevitable because eventually, donors get tired of giving.
The bottom line; wrestling has to learn how to stand on its own two feet.
Here’s how this works; with ticket sales it demonstrates that we have a product that people are willing to support. Interest by fans translates into interest by the media. Interest by the media means access to a far greater revenue source, which in turn attracts more fans, who buy more tickets.
So far, our leadership doesn’t seem to understand that, or more likely, doesn’t want to be bothered.
This is the only way wrestling wins is by making tonight’s dual meet more desirous to attend than whatever other entertainment options are available.
That’s why I’m wholeheartedly behind A Point Earned is a Point Scored. I’d institute the rule change tomorrow if I were granted the power.
To date, it’s our sports endemic lack of excitement, and the exhilaration of the unknown that’s to blame for our lack of fans.
We’d have fans, we’d have success, if we just gave the public a reason to attend matches. Instead, we institute penalties instead of incentives, and that only impedes action. Have you ever wondered why insurance companies give customers good driver discounts, because they know it reduces accidents, and as a result, capital outlay?
Wrestling needs rules that incentivize, not penalize.
As to A Point Earned is a Point Scored, here we go.
Over the years I’ve thought about a lot of rule changes. But so few of them have made their way through my validation gauntlet of criteria, but A Point Earned is a Point Scored certainly did.
1. Will the rule increase scoring?
2. Will it escalate action; which is often different from scoring?
3. Does it make the sport easier to understand, and officiate?
4. Will it attract fans?
5. Does the change create any safety concerns?
6. Will the change have a positive, or negative impact on revenue?
A Point Earned is a Point Scored isn’t difficult to understand. What an athlete scores, his team receives at the end of the bout. When a match ends 7-2, the winning wrestler’s team receives 7 points and the defeated wrestler’s team receives 2 team points. No confusion there.
Yes, I’m scrapping the 3, 4, 5, and 6-point match outcomes. That’s so counterproductive it’s laughable.
As to forfeits, they’re worth 15 team points, plus, the team that forfeits a weight class, also forfeits the meet. If both teams have a forfeit or multiple forfeits, both teams lose the dual and end up with losses on their records.
Now I realize this rule will bring about a lot of conversations but we simple can’t allow forfeits to take place. We can’t afford to continue to cheat our fans out of matches promised, and matches paid for, and expect them to be happy about it. Fans are the life blood of all sports, and without them, especially in today’s world of out of control spending, cutbacks are going to happen. And, on too many occasions, that means wrestling’s loss.
A disqualification is worth 15 team points and here’s how they’re added to a bout score. If wrestler A is winning 5-2 at the time of wrestler B being disqualified, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 2 team points because all points scored, by either athlete, are team points received.
What about injury default: 15 team points are added to the winner’s bout score. If wrestler A is winning 5-2 at the time of wrestler B being injured and subsequently defaults, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 2 team points, once again, all points scored, are team points received.
Regarding a pin: 15 team points are added to the winner’s bout score. If wrestler A is winning 5-2 at the time of wrestler B being pinned, wrestler A’s team receives 20 points (15 + 5) and wrestler B’s team receives 2 team points.
Tech falls are just like they are now; any 15 or greater point separation ends the match. If wrestler A wins by the score of 18-3, his team receives 18 team points and wrestler B’s team receives 3 team points.
Over all, this system of a point scored is a point received:
1. Immensely encourages scoring, just the opposite of the current system.
2. Allows every wrestler to contribute to the team score even in a losing effort. Can anyone name a sport that eliminates an athlete’s contributions in a losing effort? Just wrestling, how dumb are we?
3. 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.
4. Logically increases the number of pins by virtue of higher scoring.
5. Severely discourages stalling because even in a losing effort a last second escape could actually mean a lot to a team’s total.
6. The rule allows a team that’s losing rather badly to come back and win the dual. Come from behind wins are the sweetest events in spectators lives and keeps fans in their seats cheering, and the coaches nervous, right up to the very end.
7. Makes the sport easy to understand for those who are new to wrestling.
8. It seriously discourages forfeits which has to be an extremely positive outcome, especially given the number of times we see forfeits that cheat spectators out of that which was promised, and expected – 10 matches for the price of admission.
9. With larger team scores, the chance of two teams tying is nearly impossible as is having to explain to spectators our complicated system of tie-breaking.
As to the basis for the change, wrestling strategies have 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 wrestling to the point of near extinction.
In the NCAA finals during the 1950’s, there were a total of 14 pins. In the 1960’s there were 13 pins. In the 1970’s there were 7. In the 1980’s there were 6. In the 1990’s there were 4. In the 2000’s there were 3. Notice a trend? And our spectator numbers have eroded almost proportionally.
Granted the sport has more than a few issues, but the most important one we must address before all others is a lack of individual scoring which, directly effects attendance numbers.
This change is huge for wrestling, something that will obviously create a great deal of controversy, all of it coming from the coaches. The source of their objections will center on their repulsion of being forced to change a long held tradition that the slow-down approach to wrestling wins’ matches.
But I will also tell you, as soon as the first whistle blows after this rule is implemented, coaches will forget every issue they had with the change and start coaching to the new rule. They’re competitors and if there’s one thing you can count on; they’ll compete.
It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that coaches who win the most, teach the slowdown approach to wrestling. Get a lead, play the edge, control the tie-up, down block on shots and follow up with half shots of your own. The goal is to keep the referee at bay while the athlete waits for the match to end.
And don’t be fooled, the few spectators that do come, see this, and knowingly, or unknowingly, wonder why they came.
A vast majority of athletes don’t care what the score is when the final buzzer sounds, as long as they get their hand raised. So I don’t blame the competitors for low scoring and uninspired performances. It’s the rules they’re playing to and if we really want action, we need to change the rules they’re playing to.
But be forewarned, coaches will shake their heads, and be very vocal about their opposition to this rule. But everything they’re thinking about has to do with the fear of possibly losing matches to teams that previously were walk-overs.
But is that a bad thing for the sport?
Not the loss’s, but the fear? Isn’t fear the greatest motivator? If we scare the coaches, they in turn will see to it that their athletes feel the same amount of anxiety they’re feeling and everything will change.
In every other sport a point earned is a point scored. So why not wrestling? 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 baskets and 10 team points if he scores between 15 to 30 baskets? That’s what wrestling does? How about a quarterback who throws for 3 touchdowns and the scoreboard only gives him credit for 1? Serve 3 aces in tennis and look up to see the score is only 15-Love. Hit a bases loaded home run and your team only gets 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. Sound crazy, yep, and that is exactly what we do in wrestling.
The basic concept is every point scored by either wrestler is a point earned when the match ends, period. That’s so easy for everyone to understand from the sports veterans to our first time viewers.
With A Point Earned is a Point Scored, 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 up until the end of the match. If the athlete doesn’t get this concept, I’m sure his coach will remind him of the importance of scoring and scoring often, probably with a red face and a very loud voice.
Regarding the pin, this was the most difficult aspect to get a handle on relative to scoring. As simple as it is to say a point earned is a team point scored, throwing in how to handle the pin was nothing short of maddening. Trust me; I went through dozens of mental contortions to reach the following conclusion.
We have to reward all wrestlers, in every situation, who put points on the board. Points mean action, action means spectators and spectators means institutional revenue. Baseball doesn’t negate the two runs a batter drives in after he is thrown out trying to reach third. Once points are earned, they’re earned.
Look at it this way, the pin is nothing more than a scoring technique that’s a level above a near fall, which ends the match and determines the winner.
I know that may sound crazy but the whole premise behind this system is to reward effort. We must incentivize wrestlers to score more and score often while forcing coaches out of their “protect the lead” approach to wrestling. Once everyone understands the game has changed, they’ll change with it; they’re too competitive not to.
If you think this rule will scare the bejesus out of coaches, you’re probably right. But we have to force each of them to alter the way they handle their athletes. Scoring, and action, must be our top priority, not their insecurities.
Wrestlers must be forced, or sufficiently motivated, to engage their opponents as often as boxers throw punches or basketball players take shots.
If we’re to make significant changes to wrestling relative to scoring and fan attendance, athletes need to know that each point earned 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, and the fans, were when he wrestled knowing that every point he scored could make the difference? Peer pressure is a wonderful thing.
Currently, when an athlete is losing 10-4 in the third period with 45 seconds 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 10 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. 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 in the same way, and why not? Why do we have to have, yet again, a different scoring system for our customers to try and understand? KISS folks.
Granted, there could be a few occasional upsets early on with this rule but over time the pecking order of teams will remain the same. Successful coaches know how they became successful and will continue being that way regardless of the rules.
Now if anyone is concerned about those college teams that have 2 offensive machines 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 other sports?
One 6’ 11” basketball star in high school surrounded by 4 average players has a legitimate shot at winning a state championship.
According to what wrestling does today, that’s not fair.
A great running back or quarterback can carry a so-so football team through the playoffs.
According to what wrestling does today, that’s not fair.
An outstanding tennis player will compete in both singles and doubles and account for 30 percent of a team’s score. In college wrestling, that’s not fair.
One good pitcher in baseball surrounded by 8 average players will defeat 8 great players with an average pitcher.
According to what wrestling does today, that’s not fair.
Just because this is different from what we’ve grown accustomed to, which is the reason why the slowdown approach to scoring is so familiar to us, doesn’t mean that what we’ve been doing is right, or mean the change shouldn’t be made.
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 significantly reduced the number of stalling calls they had to make?
And just think how a rule like this would jazz up the World Cup competitions in freestyle? But that’s a conversation for another day.
It’s been a few years since we discussed similar options with the same goal of increasing action, but now might be the best time to make a strong push for a change. I say this because with the NFHS rule regarding states adopting 12/13/14 weights, many will base their decision on wanting an odd number to avoid the tie-break criteria (as opposed to what is best in terms of weight classes). Any change such as this to scoring makes the dual tiebreaker virtually moot. With the “all points scored” plan, I do worry about wrestlers running up the score against inferior opponents before securing the pin, in the same way I worry about inferior wrestlers going to their back and wanting to get pinned to avoid giving up additional team points. I have been a proponent of MOV (margin of victory) scoring, which encourages scoring throughout the whole match, and not just when approaching a major decision. Essentially, all points scored count, such that a 5-4 win is worth 3.1 pts, while a 11-2 win is worth 3.9 points. A tech is still 5, while a pin is still 6…but all other decisions are 3.0 (OT win) to 4.4 (14 point margin of victory). Don’t fear the decimal. The other variant (slightly more complex, but an attempt to more greatly incentivize scoring) is to make the win worth 2 points, add the MOV component (0.1 to 1.4) AND add 1/10 points for every point the winner scored, such that a 3-2 win is only 2 +.1 + .3 for 2.4 pts, whereas an 11-10 win would be 2 + .1+ 1.1, for a total of 3.2. (max out pts scored at 1.5 for scoring 15 or more points, such that a high scoring 18-4 bout would generate 4.9, just a hair less than a tech fall). Also, I am a proponent of making forfeits more painful, especially if a team has a wrestler that could be sent out. To differentiate, we need to impose “locked line-ups” that are presented to the official just prior to the match start (anthem time). This also diminishes the effect of the coin toss. If a team lists a wrestler for a weight class and then forfeits, that is worth 8 points (and you can’t move your kid to another weight to duck someone). Couple these with 4-3-2-1 scoring and action would certainly increase (3 pt takedown, 2 point reversal, 1 point escape and near falls ranging from 2-4 pts (2 seconds, 4 seconds/6seconds) and penalties 1-2-3-4.
Wade, I just posted a similar idea for discussion on our NJ Wrestling group on Facebook and was informed that you had already published this column. Nice to know I am in good company. I wasn’t really advocating it as much as I was just wondering how it would change dual meet wrestling. The difference in what I wrote is that when a wrestler was pinned, the bout would not end. The pinner would get 6 bout points and the bout is restarted. Fewer long, drawn out pinning situations. Time = more points. Only reaching a 15 point lead ends the bout. Regardless of the details, I would like to see how it would play out, if it did make a dual meet more (or less) exciting.
Regarding metagaming and promoting pinning, i think a good method would be to make it a function of a ‘maximum point’ limit.
To explain, lets say for the sake of example we have a limit of 30 points; so in the hypothetical case that a wrestler pins a guy without scoring a single point, he gets thirty points. If he has 7 points and pins the guy, then he gets 23 points, to make it 30. And so on like that. Same way with technical falls; a wrestler up 15-0 gets 15 for 30; a wrestler up 20-5 gets 10 for 30, and so on. (In the unlikely event a wrestler scores 30 points in regulation without ever getting a 15 point lead, the match simply ends.)
That way there’s always an incentive to go for the pin, even in the very beginning, rather than incentive for a superior wrestler to ‘play with their food’ by racking up some catch and release points first. If you would want to privilege it even more you could also have different ‘total victory’ conditions have different point caps; eg, if in the above example a technical fall would give 30, then a pin could give 35 or 40, and a DQ something similar, and so on.
Rmongler . . . we’re both in the same church, although sitting in different pews. The idea is to make wrestlers wrestle for 6 or 7 minutes, never letting up, with noticeable incentives to keep going. Right now the focus, due to the scoring system, is on doing far less than less. You don’t win, or keep fans that way. Thanks for writing.
Your goal is the pin. Their goal is scoring points.
Have you considered the following scoring changes to try to align the two goals?
1) Instead of a 1 point riding time advantage at the end of a match, as is done in college, award 1 point every 20 seconds of riding.
This will award points for riding. It is still fewer points than what can be earned by a wrestler proficient in the take down, release technique.
2) Award 2 points every 20 seconds a wrestler’s opponent is in the near fall situation.
This will encourage a wrestler to actually try to turn and pin the opponent when the opponent has been weakened enough.
3) Riding one’s opponent, to weaken one’s opponent, will no longer be considered stalling.
4) You still need a big pay-off, in points, for getting a pin to motivate wrestlers to actually get the pin.
I have a thought regarding the idea riding one’s opponent is stalling. I believe that idea came about because wrestlers, back in the 1920s, could win matches by having riding time advantage, so that’s all they did. I suggest the wrestlers, back in the 1920s, didn’t have sufficient motivation to work for a pin.
I will say, repeatedly, parts of any activity, may appear boring in the beginning. What is boring is in the eyes of the beholder. What is important is the pay-off at the end.
I refer to a fishing example. It’s boring, just sitting there in a boat, waiting for a fish to nibble. When a fish does nibble, suddenly, the boredom vanishes. When the fish takes the bait, it becomes very exciting. We forget about the time we spent waiting for the first nibble. If we catch our limit of fish, we think it was a great day and we can’t wait to go fishing again.
The same is true for the marathon. Most of the race can appear to be boring to some beholders. It becomes exciting to all beholders when a runner approaches the finish line.
The same is true for soccer. Until the first goal is scored, it can appear boring to some beholders. It becomes exciting to all beholders when a goal is scored.
The same is true for boxing. Most of the boxing match is boring to some beholders. All they do is spar. It becomes exciting to all beholders when a knockout punch is thrown.
Those who believe the goal of wrestling is to score points may find it interesting, I find the take down, release technique of wrestling both frustrating and boring. Why? The wrestlers are not working toward the goal of getting a pin.
What those who favor scoring points find exciting, I find boring, because the expectations and goals do not align.
Please take these back and forths to email.
I have a favor to ask.
Can you create a poll of the wrestling community?
I would like to know what the wrestling community think wrestlers are.
Why create this poll? What the wrestling community thinks about what wrestlers are may indicate expectations.
1) Are wrestlers predators? If you think wrestlers are predators, do you want to see more pins?
For example, I think UFC fighters are predators.
I made the assumption everyone thinks wrestlers are predators on the hunt after prey. This assumption may be wrong.
2) Are wrestlers great athletes trying to earn points? If you think wrestlers are great athletes trying to earn points, do you want to see more points and more spectacular ways to earn points?
For example, I think gymnasts are great athletes.
Gymnasts earn points using their skill and strength.
Gymnastics actually has a lot of spectacular movement and demonstrations of strength moves.
3) Other? Please give examples to help us understand these other choices.
Rick . . . I’ve done that for 50 years and know how they would respond. They hate stalling, down wrestling for the most part and have never thought about the word predator. And if you’d ask, they would tell you that the matches are close because most of the athletes these days are so evenly matched that that’s the way it is. And a large portion of our base is so frustrated about a lack of scoring that they’re starting to believe that the push-out rule should be implemented.
Wade…I didn’t know.
I guess it depends how you define progress.
1) I define progress as working toward a pin.
2) They define progress as scoring points.
I am concerned they will argue, if a pin gives a 15 point bonus because it is a match ending event, then a technical fall should give a 14 point bonus because it is also a match ending event.
Alternatively, they may argue, something like the following:
If a match ends by decision, the wrestler who gets the decision gets 3 additional team points.
If a match ends by major decision, 4 additional team points.
If a match ends by technical fall, 5 additional team points.
If a match ends by pin, 6 additional team points.
I.e., they could adopt parts of your scoring system merging it into the present system to insure they get what they want.
Paying fans in the stands will decide who is right and who is wrong. When I say fans, I don’t mean family and close friends of the wrestlers and the coaches.
I assume they won’t accept the thought, if two wrestlers are evenly matched, the wrestlers need enough time and the tools to wear each other down so they aren’t evenly matched toward the end of the match?
What happened to your posts?
I was overwhelming the blog with my posts.
I am terrible at rambling on and on.
Rather than think before I post, I post before I think.
I remember asking Wade to please delete some of my other rambling posts.
Well, saying what you feel is never a bad thing, in my opinion. Your posts made me think, that’s even better.
If it is done with civilty, then what’s the worry?
Or maybe I missed something.
It is a competition between those who favor winning using the point system and those who favor winning by pin. Wade is on the side of those who favor winning by pin.
Wrestlers can go, their entire career, winning matches using the point system. They can become state champions never trying to pin an opponent.
Those who favor the point system may try to argue, the technical fall is just as good as the pin.
Let me be a fan for a moment, and argue why I disagree. To me, a technical fall is not as good as a pin.
When you start a wrestling match, you have two predators. Over time, one wrestler shows himself to be the true predator and the other wrestler is the prey.
This is when the difference between a technical fall and a pin shows up.
When a wrestler is going for a pin, it is as if you only have the predator and the prey struggling. Will the predator kill the prey so the predator can eat? Will the prey manage to survive long enough to manage to run away? There is no outside interference. The prey only survives if it is able to move, not in a death-grip, as time runs out.
When a wrestler is just scoring points to score points, it’s as if the predator is playing with the prey. The predator isn’t really hungry. The predator is waiting for a third party to break them up. Will the third party, the referee, break them up after 10 points are scored, or 15 points are scored, or 30 points are scored?
What about the case where the wrestler is going for the pin, and scores a technical fall, instead? The predator is hungry. The predator is trying to kill it’s prey. Some third party, the referee, comes along and interrupts the kill. It’s not like the prey managed to escape by itself. It’s not like the predator managed to get its kill. It’s as if the referee felt sorry for the prey and intervened.
I have a question for those who have a career in wrestling. Do you find a technical fall as emotionally satisfying as a pin?
I believe those who favor the point system will argue, all we have to do is educate the fans into believing winning through the point system is as good as getting a pin.
I suggest they are also educating coaches and wrestlers into believing the point system is as good, or better, than getting a pin.
They may have convinced coaches and wrestlers. Fans, on the other hand, vote with our feet. The more you try to educate me into believing winning through the point system is as good, or better, than watching a pin, the faster I will run away.
This is an interesting premise. It intimates the elephant in the room. Pinning is a lost art or at least not Coached to the degree that it should.
You are on the right website for discussing pinning. I do not believe that wrestling is BBR, broken beyond recognition although our current state id very dire.
Coaches would be well served by viewing Wade’s 16 hours of video and then incorporate the pinning mindset into their instruction.
The opinion that pinning is a lost art is not new.
The opinion that pinning is a lost art is older than the point system,
Go to this PDF of the 1942 Official NCAA Wrestling Guide, edited by Dr. R. G. Clapp. He was the chairman of the Rules Committee that adopted the point system.
Read his opinion piece on pages vi and vii.
Pinning became a lost art the moment alternative ways existed to win a match.
What happened? The problem was time management coupled with the insistence there always be a winner of the match. People are afraid of a match ending in a draw.
Why is time management such a difficult problem?
When wrestling had no time-limit, and wrestlers had to wrestle to a pin, there was no telling how long a match would last. Read about the 1912 Summer Olympics, men’s Greco-Roman middleweight wrestling match between Klein and Asikainen lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes.
The rule makers decided to impose time limits. They had to decide how a match could be won when time ran out and there was no pin.
First, they tried riding time advantage. Wrestlers started to ride their opponents to win the match instead of trying to pin their opponents.
Next, they tried having the referee decide the winner when there was no pin. Coaches and fans objected. They accused the referees of being biased or ignorant. Again, wrestlers didn’t have to pin their opponents to win.
Next, they tried the point system. We are still “trying” the point system. It’s the same old story. Wrestlers don’t have to pin their opponents to win.
I can understand needing a way to decide which wrestler advances in an individual tournament which uses a ladder.
I don’t understand why matches in dual meets can’t end in draws. It’s not the individual match that’s important. It’s which team, as a whole, advances.
I’m a firm believer in using a criteria system for deciding which team won the dual.
The team that has the most forfeits loses.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits, the team with the most DQ’s loses.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQ’s, the team with the most pins wins.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQ’s and pins, the team that got its pins in the shortest amount of time wins.
I see no need for a point system.
This isn’t the only thing wrong with time management. You need enough time to accomplish the goal. Otherwise, wrestling is reduced to being the most skillful at moves and holds.
If I were to relate this to Chess, you master your openings, but you don’t need to master a middle game or an end game.
Instead of Chess, think about it this way in wrestling. You become very good at take downs and escapes, and maybe practice some turns before you are returned to the referee’s position or stood up. You don’t have a middle game where you ride your opponent, to drain your opponent of his energy. Once you have drained your opponent of his energy, you don’t have an endgame where you try to pin him.
You say riding is boring. Of course it’s boring, but it is part of the middle game and has a purpose. Any goal that takes time to accomplish has boring parts and exciting parts. Let me use an example like fishing.
Most of the time, you sit around waiting for a fish to bite. You get bored. You learn patience. You learn to relax. Then you get a nibble. Suddenly, you are excited. You are anticipating catching a fish. When the fish gets hooked, you don’t care about action; you care about landing the fish. You are anticipating landing the fish.
If I ask you afterwards, did you enjoy fishing. You will give a resounding yes. You have forgotten about the time you spent waiting for a fish to nibble. Will you want to go fishing again? Of course you would.
I don’t have to use fishing as an example. Think of professional boxing. Professional boxers where each other down. It can take several rounds before one boxer knocks out the other boxer. Fans live through the boring rounds where the boxers are wearing each other down. Fans are anticipating the knockout. But this takes time.
Another of my pet beliefs is to lengthen the matches in a dual meet. Let a high school match last 15 minutes and a college match last 21 minutes.
You are going to scream. You will say a dual meet will last too long.
It doesn’t have to.
Set up three wrestling mats. Run three wrestling matches concurrently.
For a high school dual meet, 15 minutes / match * 13 matches (weight classes) / 3 matches (number of mats) going on concurrently is 15*13/3 or 85 minutes. Add in down time and you can easily keep a high school dual meet under two hours.
For a college dual meet, 21 minutes / match * 10 matches (weight classes) / 3 matches (number of mats) going on concurrently is 21*10/3 or 70 minutes.
There is another advantage to having multiple mats. It becomes a three ring circus. Fans can cheer what is happening on one mat and bemoan what’s happening on another.
Are there downsides? Yes. You need more referees and other officials. You need the gym space for 3 mats being used simultaneously.
The upside, fans anticipating what is going to happen on the different mats outweighs any downsides.
I have an error in the college dual meet meet time.
I end up, not with 70 minutes, but 84 minutes.
It’s 21 (length of a match) * 9 (number of matches run simultaneously)/3 (number of mats) + 21 (any remaining matches) which gives me 63+21 or 84 minutes. This should still keep a college dual meet under two hours.
I have an error in the high school dual meet meet time.
I end up, not with 70 minutes, but 75 minutes.
It’s 15 (length of a match) * 12 (number of matches run simultaneously)/3 (number of mats) + 15 (any remaining matches) which gives me 60+15 or 75 minutes. This should still keep a college dual meet under two hours.
Did I say the lost art of pinning was new?
If we try to run first team on one mat, exhibition on another, and women on a third, we ruin the concept of lengthening the length of a match while keeping the dual meet under two hours.
I want the wrestlers to have more time to beat one another up and wear one another down to increase the chances for a pin. Increasing the length of a match is very important to me.
I want the wrestling to be continuous for the entire length of the match. I don’t want the match split into periods. I don’t want the referee stopping the wrestling unless they go out-of-bounds or a potentially dangerous situation arises.
Before people try to argue, increasing the length of a match would become boring, I would point to professional wrestling. They have long matches. The fans are willing to endure the length as long as there is a pin or submission at the end as a reward for their patience. Ever hear the boos when a professional wrestling match doesn’t end in a pin or submission? The professional wrestling fans are there because they want to watch, not because they are family and friends of the wrestlers.
Trying to force the wrestlers to go for pins is very important. I want to remove every other way of winning. It’s why I have the criteria, if both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQ’s, the team with the most pins wins. If both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQ’s and pins, the team that got its pins in the shortest amount of time wins.
Ever go to a high school wrestling match if you are an adult? Start talking with some of the other adults in the stands. Inevitably, you will be asked which child on the mat is yours. I would just mumble instead of answering, it’s the one over there who keeps getting pinned a lot.
You need to extend your fan base beyond family and friends. It’s equally terrible when the wrestlers outnumber the fans. How often does this happen?
Can we handle more than three mats simultaneously in a gym? Would a gym hold six wrestling mats on the floor?
If we have six wrestling mats, I would favor all exhibitions first, then the first team on three mats and women on three mats run simultaneously.
Would you have the scoring be combined for the first team and women?
Let me address the broken way you handle stalling and stalemate. You have the referee try to solve the problem. The referee hasn’t been able to solve the problem for almost a hundred years.
When will you give up and stop expecting the referee to suddenly find a magic bullet to solve the problem.
LET the WRESTLERS solve the problems of stalling and stalemate themselves. DON’T have the referee solve problems for the wrestlers.
If you let a wrestler ride his opponent, I mean really ride his opponent to drain his opponent of energy, the bottom man won’t want to stall on bottom. He won’t want to stay on bottom.
If you make the goal be pinning your opponent as quickly as possible, see the criteria I would use for deciding how a dual meet is won below, the top man won’t just ride his opponent just to ride. Riding becomes a means to an end rather than the end in itself.
This is why I want the length of a match lengthened. Wrestlers need time to wear down their opponents.
I will say the same about stalemates. Let the wrestlers work out of the stalemates by themselves.
For me, the referee has two main purposes:
1) first, to stop any move or hold that is becoming potentially dangerous. This is the only time the referee should stop the action on the mat.
2) look for the pin.
The match should have as few interruptions as possible. In your current system, how many times is a wrestling match interrupted, stopped, on average? You think fans enjoy all these interruptions?
People will curse me, but I would also lengthen the time for the pin from 1 or 2 seconds to a minimum of 3 seconds.
One other change I would make is time running out at the end of a match. If a pin is in progress and time runs out, let the wrestling continue until either a pin is scored or the bottom man escapes the pinning situation. Boxers would say, “No more SAVED by the BELL.”
Coaches are set in their ways. They will drive their broken car into the ground. They will not make radical changes. Radical changes are needed.
Great idea just a few tweaks and I think wrestling would be even more exciting. Because you never out of the match then.
Dennis . . . Exactly, and that can’t be a bad thing. This rule doesn’t effect the athletes at all, who would have won the match before the rule, will win the match now. It’s the fans that benefit and the coaches who have to adjust. And wrestling wins.
I agree whole heartedly!
Wade as I always tell people, you are a creative genius, like you wrestled! Great concept, let’s do it.
I will say college dual meet attendance is growing and setting records at places like PSU, Ohio State, VT, NC State, Virginia, Missouri, Lehigh, Iowa, MN, Mich., etc. But, as you say, It could be even more exciting. I have also seen many boring boxing, tennis, baseball, football and basketball games as well.
Joe . . . you’re very kind. Whoever is number one and/or having immediate success, always sees an improvement in fan interest. However, if PSU were losing half their matches and Cal Poly was winning the NCAA’s, Cal Poly’s fan base would have a significant uptick and PSU’s would drop. But, in every case, every school you mentioned, all of them, are losing money. None of them are revenue neutral, or profitable. And for the other 70 D-I schools, they are so poor they can’t even buy a glass of water. And the AD’s are well aware of it. We must always look at the entire picture and when we do, gulp. Please keep up all you do for the sport friend.
How will this impact the US wrestlers in international competition if the international rules remain as is?
Scott . . . good question. But my first thought is, why would that be important? A better question would be, what will happen to our international effort if we continue to lose collegiate programs? But to your immediate concern, being forced to attack more often can only sharpen techniques and strategies. Then, when someone needs points internationally, they should, in theory, have stronger shots, slicker setups, and more success. But at the very least, I certainly don’t see any downsides. Thank you for your interest.
Wade, brilliant, think how this will change strategy from the corner….. Create arm chair quarterbacks, the most passionate fans that exist in all other revenue sports. “Why did he let him pin him so quick, he could have let him go and taken him down three more times, and won the dual with a pin…. Geese”
Greg . . . strong points. Yes, the more the fans can get involved and become serious arm chair quarterbacks, the better it is for wrestling. And what most detractors fail to see, or understand, the reason why we struggle to fill line-ups and we see forfeits, is using a work parallel here. If you pay a ditch digger working on a road crew $5.00 hour and the person who holds the yield sign $25.00 an hour, which job do you want? The answer is . . . the one that’s a hell of a lot easier and pays 5 times more. Football and basketball always have plenty of kids to select from because the fans in the stands is the hourly wage and the work necessary is 1/5th what it is in wrestling. We expect out athletes to kill themselves and then go to meets where the wrestlers outnumber the fans. That’s why we have forfeits, it’s a out of balance work vs. compensation formula. Everything we do has to be centered on one thing, putting fans in the stands. Creating “worth” for the athletes and the schools coffers.
I agree that the scoring system needs to be changed to keep the fans engaged. When I was watching the NCAA’s, I kept thinking about how many tv channels were being switched when people got bored watching the same old lack of action. I was glad that I wrestled before Wade at Clarion because the fan’s came to see Wade pin his opponents and then the crowd would filter out. I felt sorry for the guys at the end of the line up. This is why Penn State packs the gym for their dual meets, their wrestlers never pack it in and are always going for more points even when they have their individual dual match won.
Dale . . . thank you for the kind words, and observation. We need fans, every other aspect of the sport doesn’t need to be fixed right now. Your company can be stupid, inefficient, ineffective and struggling but if it’s making money, smarter people will appear due to the revenue creation and they will fix things. Right now, because we are losing serious cash every year, the coach is all alone to handle everything. And no one can possibly be that talented or have 48 hours a day to accomplish what needs to be done. So coaches throw their hands up and just focus on winning meets. Our only way out is to provide an entertainment source that brings in revenue to the point that the AD will assign people to handle all the “other” aspects of running a business that the coach doesn’t have the skills to handle, and definitely doesn’t have the interest to handle.
Lots to consume here and the old noggin ain’t what it used to be . . . We do need to make wrestling more entertaining. I do like creativity. It does seem that the system could be gamed by superior or inferior wrestlers. The beast gets to 14 before the fall. The fish shakes hands and goes to his back. From my perspective, neither is respectful. One solution would be to max the match differential at 15. So a fall, forfeit, DQ or 22-7 would be worth 15.
Jeff . . . good thoughts. But, regardless of what we do or don’t do, you can never legislate character. But I would have to believe that all the wrestlers I know, or who I have known, would never, voluntarily, roll over and purposely lay there and get pinned. Haven’t we always said, and believed, that wrestlers are the toughest, and proudful athletes out there? And the sport teaches, and attracts, athletes with pride. I just don’t see coaches encouraging their athletes to roll over, or believing they should. And in all other sports, does LeBron stop shooting at half time because the other team is down by 20? Does the other team fail to come out of the locker room after halftime because they’re behind? And to be honest with you, I can’t think of one coach in wrestling who would tell any of their athletes to go out and lay down.
Great idea. I am not sure if it was addressed. Would riding time be eliminated?
Don . . . didn’t think about riding time. Sure, keep it, why not? I doubt it would make much difference one way or the other. Action, action, action is how we win. Thank you for thinking about it.
Present is not making new friends. This is a great idea.
6 1st periods were scoreless at this year’s Nationals?
Unacceptable for wrestling to maintain much less grow.
7 & out of ten Finals. I rewatched after my post,
I missed Spencer Lee.
Joey . . . exactly and why we struggle so. Those athletes could have all scored a lot of points if properly motivated. The coach would see to it. And this year, Brands and Sanderson would have been screaming during the finals and all through out the tournament. Brands to protect the Hawks lead and Cael to catch Iowa.
Love the concept, but it would need to be tweaked in order to encourage coaches not to forfeit matches to vastly superior wrestlers. Under this format I suspect Spencer Lee would’ve wrestled far fewer matches this year.
Yes. I think the solution is simple. Make any forfeit, injury default, or disqualification worth maximum points. I believe that’s between 27 up to 34
Another solution would be to decide a meet based on criteria.
The team with the most forfeits loses.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits, the team with the most DQs loses.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQs, the team with the most pins wins.
If both teams have the same number of forfeits and DQs and pins, the team with the most points wins.
Christopher . . . okay, how about this addition which I would wholeheartedly support. If a team forfeits a weight class, that team loses the dual before it starts. We CAN’T afford to allow coaches to duck out of matches. A basketball team isn’t allowed to play a game with just 4 men on the floor. So, this idea isn’t novel.
Cant support that at all. There are sometimes legitimate reasons why a team must forfeit a weight. Besides what’s the incentive to show up at all if a team knows it has lost before the dual starts?
Christopher . . . good thinking but I’d add this rule. Any team that forfeits a weight class automatically loses the dual meet. We can’t afford to continually cheat our fans out of the 10 bouts we promised them, and they paid for with their admission to the meet, and give them say 8 bouts instead. Would you go to a baseball game that you knew was going to cut out the 5th and 6th innings? Would you be upset to go to the movies and find out that the projectionist cut out 20 minutes of film in the middle of the movie? That’s what we do in wrestling, and no one sees this as a problem? So, losing the dual meet for forfeiting a weight class is very reasonable.
The only other group that does that is the NBA!
As someone who was consistently frustrated with scoring, I wholeheartedly agree. I wrestled with a grind down style and scored most points at the end when my opponent was tired. Kids would curl up and stall, turning the match into essentially a physical beat down since they had only the incentive to prevent bonus points, and not get pinned. I think this would almost entirely eliminate that issue and open up success to many other styles of wrestling that have been basically snuffed out at this point.
Cody . . . . you’re right. Thank you for responding.
This is the best idea I’ve ever heard to help save wrestling. This should be implemented immediately. We can tweak it as needed as we go. Great stuff!
Rob . . . very smart, reminding everyone that nothing is 100% perfect the moment you enact it, but in this case, I believe we’re close.
After seeing this proposal many years ago, I think about 2005. we tried this at a dual meet. Both coaches explained it to their teams and the final outcome would not have changed. We kept score using this proposal and using the conventional scoring system. We thought it was worth it but had a hard time getting any other coaches to try it with us for any other matches. Wrestling needs to do change to survive. I hate stalling, I want to be entertained.
I think this a fantastic idea to simplify and enhance action. Regarding the scenario where wrestler A is winning 15-4 and gets pinned, I believe wrestler B’s team would score a 19-15 win. I wonder how loud the “Snake pit” at Lehigh would get after a few of these bouts! Wade is a true visionary!
I was thinking same final score , 19-15.
Mike and Michael . . . that was an oops on my part, I added 10 and not 15. Thanks for the catch.
I like it, more offense wins!
Obviously you have put a lot of thought into this and have a platform to present the ideas. Personally I would like to see a form of this come to fruition. It should promote action to the end.
Hank . . . you’re right about action. How can that be a bad thing? Heck, Vegas might even begin to offer point spreads as a result. That would be fun.
As usual, Wade has a great idea and it makes sense and could very well improve attendance. The points earned are points scored would make it easy on the spectators, too. As the doctor who provided the vaccine said, “That didn’t hurt, did it?”
Ira . . . thank you for taking the time to write. Hope more people feel the way you do.
I went back and tried to figure Wades scoring with the PSU – OSU and Mich matches. PS-Mich had no falls and if I figured right PS would’ve won 56-41. The OSU match had each team getting a fall and I figured the final would’ve been 86-48 PS. Just an old guy that was int.
Bob . . . that was based on the old system. Had a point scored been a point earned for those duals, PSU would have been over 100 points in each one. I think Cael would have been a little more vocal during those matches than he normally is.
Makes sense to me. We need to remember that we have the Best athletes and the Greatest Sport! This gives them the opportunity to showcase their ability and maximize their worth win or loose.
Toby . . . bingo. I want to watch stars being stars. Right now we reward them for being burned out dwarfs. Thank you for posting, much appreciated.
This sounds like such a fun and exciting idea! It takes those rare exhilarating moments when an entire meet comes down to a single match and applies it to multiple matches throughout the meet.
The point about diminishing points earned by the losing side is such a good one. What football player doesn’t come home from a game and think back to that touchdown or tackle they made? Give wrestlers that same feeling for getting the escape.
One odd dynamic would be guys trying not to get the pin until they’ve racked up a lot of points. Fast pins would likely go away. Is there any component for awarding more points for a quick pin? I know that violets the KISS method, but perhaps worth exploring.
Another could be a wrestler intentionally stalling/fleeing or laying down for the pin before points could be accumlated.
As far as making this reality I think the best way to do so is to try it. We have plenty of independent tournaments and meets throughout the year? Why not organize a dual meet tournament utilizing this modified point system? Host an exhibition match against two prominent teams or clubs using this? It should help prove to all those spectating that this would be a welcomed innovation.
Who will be the first?
Yes, great idea. To implement such a different system, we don’t need everyone to accept it right away.
We just need :
A) Two teams to try it in a dual meet
B) An independent dual meet tournament to step forward and commit to it. (Ask coaches/fans/officials to fill out a survey after the tournament)
C) A whole league to commit for a season
I would be willing to develop the survey.
Britt . . . good idea but remember, this rule gets better and better every year it’s used. If it’s just one meet, the coaches haven’t had time to beat on their teams in practice for months, and seasons to score more and score often. So, although you might see some differences in that one dual meet, don’t do this and then come back and say, “we tried it, and for all the noise and hoopla, it really didn’t make that much of a difference.” When it becomes a rule, judge it after a season of use. That’s when you’ll really start to notice a big difference. Coaches will find a way to make that one meet look ho-hum so they can survive having to change. Thanks for writing.
You show 15 points for a pin then later 10 points???
Which is it?
Lou . . . I re-read the blog and can’t find where I said 10 points for a pin? To clarify, it’s 15, just like all the other 15 point outcomes. Thanks for writing.
“My problem was; if an athlete is winning 15-4 and gets pinned, the team score under this system is 15 points for the person who got pinned (loser) and 14 points (10+4) for the winner.”
This is where the 10 points came in.
Lou . . . I finally found the 10 point oops. I’ve changed it in the blog. Thanks for the help.
I think you have the value of a pin correct in your scoring system relative to the rest of your scoring system.
Your scoring system makes me think of the card game, 21. The goal, in the card game, is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over.
For wrestlers, the goal would be to get as close to a 14 point spread as possible without going over, and then scoring a pin.
Imagine a match score of 20-6 just before a pin. The winning wrestler would have gotten 20+15, or 35 team points. The losing wrestler would get 6 points for his team. That’s a 29 point spread between the winner and his opponent.
One can’t get anywhere close to this point spread if a match ends by decision or technical-fall.
One question please: if a wrestler is ahead by 14 points in a match, and a wrestler scores a take down, taking the opponent immediately to the opponent’s back, is the wrestler allowed to work for, and get the pin? Or, is the match stopped the moment the point spread is 15 points or greater by technical fall?
Rick . . . as the rule is now, if the athlete hits his back and the takedown and subsequent points take the bout over a 15 point difference, the offensive wrestler is allowed to secure the fall. That would remain in place in my opinion. The fall being the optimum and ultimate outcome.
I’m on board. I thought this was a good idea over the years when you have mentioned it. In reading your details above, it makes sense to make it happen! How can I help Wade? What’s the next step?
On a more general note, THANK YOU for your lifetime of contribution to our sport. You are literally one of a kind! I appreciate your inspiration! Glad your mind is still going strong!
I like it, it doesn’t change wrestling on the mat it just will make guys open up and try to win by more and not just win by getting through. This would be easy to apply even in tournaments and gives mid level schools a real opportunity to compete as a team with the big boys.
“and gives mid level schools a real opportunity to compete as a team with the big boys”
Could you explain why that would be the case?
Ben . . . I believe what Tim was saying is that if Gable, Mills, and Schalles wrestled for Clarion as an example, PSU, OSU, and the Hawks had better be on their game. Those three athletes could account for up to 75 team points.
Tim . . . you’re right, there’s not much to dislike and how exciting, watching the coaches scramble to adjust. It’s so simple.
This is one of the best ideas that has been brought forth. I had time to think hard about this after seeing a preview of it in your How Wrestling Wins blog. Now with this fuller explanation, I see no downside. I wasn’t even convinced that wrestling didn’t have enough action until I watched this years NCAA Finals.
Afterward, for a few days I heard the wrestling community debating the merits of instituting a “push out rule”!
Did anyone notice that 6 of 10 final bouts had no points scored in the first period of 3 minutes. Worse still, there were no stalling warnings.
If I was a first time spectator I would have remained one.
I see no downside to this proposal.
Wade Wave your Wand While I Click my heels.
Derek . . . great observation about the finals this year. We would have seen very different matches from the Penn State kids given they would have had a great chance to catch Iowa with this rule. As it was, the Hawks had is sewed up before the finals. Can you imagine the excitement in the arena, and the screaming the Nittany Lion and Hawk fans would have been doing if this rule would have been in place. And thank you for your kind words.
Very interesting proposal. This certainly would change dual meet dynamics. I think this idea should be studied.
Ed . . . studied hell. That’s what all the coaches say when they don’t like something. Let’s study it, and then three years later everyone has forgotten what they were supposed to study. Delay to kill. Coaches shouldn’t be allowed an opinion, we’ve been living with their opinions for 100 years; literally.
I agree. The best way to test it would be introduce it in the marketplace and see what consumers think.
We have many independent tournaments at the youth and HS level throughout the season. Host one that implements these rules.
I think dual meet matchups are also a huge place for this dynamic to shine so any exhibition matches or dual meet tournaments that could be organized would be great.
If everyone leaves those events talking about how exciting they were, it could create a ripple effect.
Ben . . . a good idea but, the only real way this will work is if it’s not a trial. Just changing the scoring for a weekend doesn’t force the coach to force his athletes to get after it. Because each coach knows that the change is a one off thing. The power of this change won’t be really noticed in that scenario. Only when it’s a rule, and the coaches know they have to live with it, will they change in a meaningful way, the way they approach their athletes. And then the way those athletes attack their opponents. Ben . . . thanks for writing.