How Wrestling Wins

For those who know me, I’ve never shied away from sharing my perspective on subjects. Some of you seem to love my unfiltered openness, others not so much. But it seems I’m the only man in the arena right now to quote a partial line from Teddy Roosevelt.

For this blog, as you read How Wrestling Wins, it’s not my intention to win anyone over, but I am trying to inspire each reader to see things a little differently than they do now.

Below, and in the accompanying 6 blogs, I will list what I would like to see added to wrestling’s rule book. The first one; A Point Earned, is a Point Scored, is by far the most important rule change in the history of the sport. To me; it’s an absolute must do. Our future rests on a point earned for reasons you’ll understand below.

The criteria I use to develop any new thought processes with regard to wrestling is:

  • Will the change increase action?
  • Will the change make wrestling simpler to watch, easier to understand?
  • Will the change increase spectator interest?

Think for a moment; the only aspect of importance in business is the color of ink a company produces. Revenue is the fuel that gives businesses the ability to operate and expand. Without fuel, all enterprise comes to a halt, exactly what has been happening in wrestling as the number programs we have today is less than half of what we use to have in the 1970’s. If that by itself doesn’t grab your attention, remember, the population of the United States is 40% larger than it was in the 70’s. So, without really noticing it, we’re getting our butts kicked in so many ways. Do you remember how many forfeits we didn’t have in the 1970’s in relation to today? Why is that with 40% more resources to draw from?

It’s not that wrestling is hard, it is, but that’s not the issue. If I may, I’ll answer this with a question. If you don’t receive a paycheck for the job you’re doing, how long do you do it before you quit? Well, a wrestler’s compensation is the number of spectators that are present. No one wants to go through hell in a wrestling room to wrestle in a gymnasium that’s 90% empty and the 10% that are there are looking at their watches.

The only thing that’s keeping wrestling operational these days is the good graces of Athletic Directors and generous alumni because every collegiate wrestling program in America, including Iowa and Penn State lose money each year.

If you don’t like anything about this blog, or the other 6 that are posted below, please go back and re-read that last two paragraphs because you might be part of the problem.

With everything that’s going on in the country with inflation and the ravenous financial nature of football and basketball to become bigger, better, and stronger; non-revenue sports had better hunker down. Because those who make decisions are growing less and less interested in, or capable of, keeping feel good liabilities on their books.

And now there’s the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) incentives that are taking revenue away, in large chunks, from athletic department spread sheets.

Texas A&M, to use one school as an example of how the NIL is playing out, just used 38 million dollars to either coax, incentivize, pay, induce, or persuade recruits to become Aggies. In the past, this was called illegal recruiting. But no longer. This is how A&M won the football recruiting wars. And they’re not alone in redistributing funds so they can take advantage of the NIL.

I think the point is, if non-revenue sports can’t find a way to break even, are they going to survive? It’s not if the larger schools have enough discretionary funds to feed the lesser producing sports, but are those institutions willing to fall further behind by not jumping in the major sports arms race with both feet?

So what will the A.D.’s do? I would think that very few of them would consider cutting the budgets of non-revenue sports in order to relieve the pressure. It’s politically smarter and easier to drop the sports and listen to the bitching for a year than cut a program back and listen to it for years.

In wrestling, are you aware that we’re at the bottom, or next to the bottom in academic performance in relation to all the other male sports? Are you aware that wrestling is at the very top, or next to the top, in the number of concussions, injuries and communicable skin infections than any other sport? Are you aware that socially, no one has ever accused wrestlers of being teetotalers, or were shocked when they didn’t walk away from a good fight?

These are the types of things, exacerbated by the amount of red ink wrestling produces, that puts our sport in the cross hairs of administrator’s. Now, mind you, that’s not every wrestling program in America. Certainly the Top 5 or 8 collegiate programs are safe, but those on their schedules aren’t.

And what doesn’t help; the higher ranked a coach’s program is, the more say he has relative to the rules. And these coaches are happy with the way things are. Why not, they’re the ones who are winning.

So, wrestling has two choices, they can either manage their athletes and the sport in a more positive way, or focus our energies on increasing revenue. Granted, it would be nice to be able to do both, but since that’s so far removed from reality, we only have one option; increase revenue, or hear, “Coach, do you have a minute, the Athletic Director would like to see you in his office.”

Wrestling has to upgrade its wow factor, and soon, if we expect to win this match.

The sport has to become more exciting, and please don’t point a finger to those great matches we seldom see as being representative of our sport. Great bouts have become fewer and fewer as the decades have rolled by.

What wrestling has to do is adopt rules that will turn thousands of current wrestlers into whirling dervishes the likes of Gene Mills, Ben Askren, Zane Rutherford and Bo Nickel.

To achieve that goal, I’ve posted below, in descending order, Wade’s Top 6 rule changes for wrestling, and separated them into their own individual posts so you can read whatever ones you want, or if you’re bored, none of them.

And for those of you who think I’m on the right path, you might consider scrolling even further down to the headers, How Wrestling Wins. There’s plenty of new ideas there to keep you thinking about all things possible.

Now in closing, may I say thank you to all who have helped make this, with almost 3 million views, the most successful blog in the history of wrestling. I truly love being a part of the sport and I certainly appreciate every one of you, even more than you know.

But now, I’d like to announce my retirement from trying to make a difference. This will be my last blog. It’s been an honor and a humbling experience to be able to share my perspectives with you.

6 Comments

  • Rick S. says:

    Just a thought.

    I’ve heard of “take down” tournaments. I assume those tournaments have modified rules so the focus is on take downs. Wrestlers need to practice take downs.

    Why aren’t there “going for the pin” tournaments? Isn’t getting a pin harder than getting a take down? Don’t wrestlers need practice getting the pin?

    I’ve no idea what the modified rules should be for a “going for the pin” tournament. The rules need to be designed to encourage every wrestler to go for a pin. What modified rules would you suggest?

    If you really want excitement, why not have a “going for the pin” dual meet tournament. Let’s see if my team can get the most pins against your team.

  • Rick S. says:

    Thank you for all your effort.

    I hope someone takes up the mantle to fight for the sport.

    I realize my greatest criticism of the sport will never be addressed by the current coaches. Perhaps I am in the minority or perhaps I am ignorant.

    I believe amateur wrestling lost its way long ago. One can’t define the goal of amateur wrestling in a single, short sentence a five year-old can understand.

    If I try to explain the goal of other sports to a five-year old, I would say things like the following:
    1) for football, the goal is to get the football in the opposing team’s end-zone.
    2) for basketball, the goal is to get the basketball in the other team’s basket.
    3) for soccer, the goal is to get the soccer ball in the other team’s goal.
    4) for hockey, the goal is to ….
    5) for the 100 yard dash, the goal is to cross the finish line first.
    6) for the marathon, the goal is to cross the finish line first.
    7) for archery, the goal is to get the arrow closest to the bulls-eye.

    In each case, the goal is to accomplish something physical. Scoring points is an afterthought tallied up after the play is over.

    How do I explain the goal of wrestling?

    Is the goal of wrestling to get the pin or demonstrate one’s skill a performing moves or scoring points?

    I have the same problem explaining the goal of gymnastics or synchronized swimming or diving to a five year-old.

    Why is this important?

    This is important so the fans can anticipate what the participants are trying to do.

    Is the wrestler trying to get a pin or trying to demonstrate wrestling skills or trying to score points? How can I anticipate what will happen?

    Fans, like me, who are not friends or family of the participants want to see progress toward something physical. I am not interested in points.

    Points are an after-thought when the “play” is over and people are tallying up the score.

    The only reason I would go to a wrestling match is to watch the child of a friend or family member.

    Otherwise, I’m sorry to say, I have not and won’t be attending any wrestling matches any time in the future. I don’t even watch wrestling on television on those rare occasions when wrestling is shown.

    • Derek Bekeny says:

      Nicely said. Pinning should be The Goal and all activity, training, marketing, and rules should feed that goal.
      Wades Manifesto provides so much in the way of creative thinking, however, I believe his greatest contribution lies with his wrestling acumen as the Greatest Pinner of All Time.
      This is not only to be admired as a spectator but is instuctive and made accessible through his DVD’s of nearly 12 hours. I have viewed these thoroughly and have taken copious notes.
      As a wrestler and coach, studying the videos changed the way that I think of wrestling for the first time and I started back in 1965.
      For all coaches that have visited this blog, I emphatically encourage you to study these videos and incorporate the Coaching Philosophy and Techniques found in this body of work.
      In so doing, wrestling would be as successful as it possibly could.
      Increased action and understanding for Spectators, the lifeblood of all entertainment endeavors, would go through the rafters!!

  • Derej Bekeny says:

    Wade,

    Many of us will miss your mind-opening ideas.
    It is hard to be Paul Revere when it seems few are listening. I can assure that there are hundreds if not thousands who have been listening.
    As you know I copied the entire How Wrestling Wins and put in a Word Doc and have subsequently shared it with a few people.
    Sometimes you dont get to see the fruits of your effort. Many teachers do not get to see the success of their students that can be directly attributed to their labor, nevertheless, it is there and spreads geometrically as it is passed down.

    “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit.”
    Greek Proverb

    Thanks for helping me and others with your Wisdom.

  • Jim Hrbek says:

    Besides being a great champion, you have been a direct, honest, caring, insightful, courageous, inspirational source of thoughts and introspection not only with respect to wrestling concerns but also with applicability in many arenas to include other sports, professions and even personal matters.

  • Ira Fleckman says:

    WASE,

    As always you are providing options that few other have placed before the wrestling community. I recognize that you “think out of the box” but when I read what you write, I see reason and logic.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    Ira

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