How Wrestling Wins – Epilogue

By | July 13, 2015

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I thought of three more things I would develop in the sport if I were the man in charge holding the magic wand. Please add these to your “let me think about it” list.

  1. The team who forfeits a weight class also forfeits any say in the order of bouts for the evening and the choice of position at the beginning of the second AND third periods. That will get the coaches attention. Forfeits are that bad for the sport and should be penalized as such.
  2. Simplify scoring for our spectators. Make it easy for everyone to remember while placing a stronger emphasis on takedowns. Bout scoring; 4-3-2-1. 4 point nearfalls (1 point for every hand count of the referee up to 4 points), 3 point takedowns, 2 point reversals and 1 point escapes. Penalties are the reverse. 1-2-3-4. 1 point for the first offense, 2 points for the second offense, 3 for the third etc. I don’t know what would happen if an athlete gets hit with a 5th penalty? Maybe we should force him or her to go out for another sport; no one can be that daft.
  3. Lastly, an athlete can’t be saved by the buzzer if he’s on his back. The match continues until a pin occurs OR the athletes leave the mat area OR the official determines one isn’t going to take place.

The sport must stop allowing the tail to wag the dog. That’s the only way wrestling can reengage the spectators we’ve lost over the years and attract ones that have yet to see a meet in person. Wrestling must market itself as “new and improved” if we’re to get the public’s attention and then actually be “new and improved.” Continuing to make small tweaks with the belief that they’ll make a difference is sadly laughable.


16 thoughts on “How Wrestling Wins – Epilogue

  1. Takedown App

    All great ideas worthy of consideration. I wonder if there’s a way to move the higher level discussion forward and into the mainstream?

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Another issue wrestling struggles with is there isn’t a mechanism in place for something like this to take place.

      We have to put a group of high powered individuals together for the purpose of creating a How Wrestling Wins document. Then introduce the results to upper level management at the NCAA in hopes they’ll see the value of this work.

      The coaches shouldn’t be involved in this process because: 1) Most have a vested interest in the sport staying the way it is and 2) They’re so competitive, even more so than members of Congress, that anything one coach would vote for another would oppose. That’s why the sport is where it’s at currently . . . on a downward trajectory.

      To answer your question, something like what’s mentioned above is in the works.

  2. Bret Stouder

    I like them all Wade. With number 3 I would not leave anything to an “official determination” but would rather say 1.) A Pin occurs 2.) The wrestler leaves the wrestling surface or 3.) The wrestler is able to get off his back. One question is what do you do if the wrestler is on bottom obtains a reversal and simultaneously puts the other wrestler on his back? Do you provide the athlete that was getting pinned the 2 point reversal and then the amount of backpoints he obtains as he goes for his pin?

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Bret . . . appreciate the comments. I worry there are some situations where the person whose on his back will never be pinned and the match could go on indefinitely. There has to be a way to end it and the referee is the highest ranking person available to make that decision. Not a perfect situation but a reasonable one.

      As to your last question, no to receiving any points. Just like an overtime sudden victory match where one person is thrown to his back, the offensive wrestler is given the opportunity to pin his opponent. If a reversal occurs in the process, the match ends because the outcome was already decided with the initial takedown. The only outcome that had to be decided was the match won by fall or points?

  3. violet

    This will increase action and eliminate a lot of stalemates: 1 count from neutral = 1 point near fall.

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Violet . . . I like your thinking here but if I’m reading this correctly, you have just killed funk wrestling, which granted, can be boring at times. But in the reverse, funk can also be terribly exciting.

      1. violet

        Yeah, I know, that’s why I said 1 count instead of instant. Maybe a 2-count would be better. I think the pros outweigh the cons. It will also have the side effect of making us better at freestyle while maintaining the integrity of American folkstyle. Funk will still find its way…

  4. Ed Gibbons

    Mark makes a valid point. “Saved by the bell” is in the lexicon of sports regulated by a clock!

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Ed . . . not sure that’s true . . . if a basketball leaves the players hand before the buzzer, play continues. If it goes in, it counts. If the ball is snapped in football before the gun sounds, play continues. If there’s a score, it counts. You saw that play out in football two years ago when Alabama lost to Auburn after the clock had expired. GREAT game, even better ending for millions of spectators; except of course for those who root for Bama.

      In wrestling, play continues if one wrestler puts his opponent on his back and surpasses the 15 point technical fall until the pin occurs or the wrestler gets off his back.

      Now I realize this latter scenario doesn’t involve a clock but wrestling already has “exceptions” to traditional thinking so why not allow the spectator to enjoy watching someone get pinned or fight off his back?

      The big question here is . . . how do you think the spectator will vote if you asked them what they think?

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Tom . . . you’re going in the right direction. But 7 points or 17 points, there are more forfeits between mismatched schools than any battle between two nationally ranked opponents.

      When Clarion is going against Ohio State, you’re more likely to see forfeits than Penn State versus Minnesota because the outcome of the dual isn’t in question.

      Losing 6 points doesn’t get a coaches attention as quickly or as painfully as penalizing everyone of his wrestlers.

      Maybe I’m being callous, but forfeits have to go the way of the dinosaur if we’re to make a case for relevancy as a sport.

  5. Mark

    Good points. Not sure I agree with the not saved by the buzzer. The clock is a factor in almost all sports and if you can beat the clock you should be rewarded a bit. Otherwise I really like some of these thoughts, especially the back point idea.

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Mark . . . it’s simple, would the fans like the match more or less if wrestling continued after the buzzer? If less, then you’re right.

      The sport has to stop always being concerned about the athlete and start focusing on spectators. Without them, ALL athletes are in jeopardy of a far worse outcome than having to fight off their backs after the buzzer.

  6. Ed Gibbons

    I am not sure about penalizing teams for forfeiting. At times wrestlers get injured or sick immediately prior to the match starting. There are other honest/legitimate circumstances which occur that result in a coach forfeiting. Giving up 6 points is the time honored penalty for failing to put a wrestler on the mat.

    I do like the idea of keeping the period going if a wrestler is on his back. That would surely heighten fan interest.

    For me, I need more time to assess the other suggestions.

    1. Wade Schalles Post author

      Ed . . . as always, thank you for writing. I understand those “times” you describe but in actuality, I bet you can count on one hand the number of times you’ve witnessed a young man getting hurt or becoming sick between weigh-ins and match time.

      In the reverse, you have probably witnessed hundreds of times when a team didn’t travel with a full lineup. Forfeits are arsenic to wrestling, we’re blatantly cheating (screwing) our spectators. How would you feel about a restaurant who served you 9 oysters and have the gull to charge you for 12? Or pay to attend a football game and the coaches decide they’re only going to play for 3 quarters?

      Rules are never 100% right for any situation. But if you can fix 90% of a problem, versus leaving one in place whose percentage is far less, why wouldn’t you do it?

      “Time honored” is never a reason to do anything if it encourages bad behavior. 6 team points only encourages coaches to forfeit. It’s far better than sending a lesser athlete into battle who’s more than likely going to get pinned and in the process lose team momentum. It currently pays to forfeit and the coaches know it.

      Putting some bite in this poor behavior won’t fix everything, but I bet you’d see far, far fewer forfeits if you penalized his athletes.

      In closing, I’d like to agree with you but we MUST minimize forfeits. I do worry about those legitimate situations when a forfeit can’t be helped, but I worry FAR more about how we treat our spectators and the downturn in their numbers. With the current state of scholastic and collegiate sports, without ticket sales, we’re not going to have these conversations in the future. I hope you understand my meaning here.


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