There is little question that dual meets are the most important form of competition in wrestling. It’s not the State High School Championships or the NCAA tournament; even though they are fun to watch.
For those who might not have thought about it; dual meets are the life blood of wrestling. They’re where fans can gather for two-hours and root for their favorite team, and then have time to tackle anyone of a dozen or so other things that are on their ‘need to get done’ lists. That’s what those who make the schedules for wrestling need to remember; there are only 24 hours in a day that everyone tries to fit 32 hours of content into.
The paying public; the fans we do have, want to get in, watch a match, and have time to get out afterwards for a drink, or to see their other child’s soccer game, or get home to relieve the babysitter.
The central theme of all successful sports is to schedule their events so they seldom go over 2 hours in length, with an absolute maximum of 3 hours. That’s if you want more fans to attend your events from one week to the next as the season unfolds.
Think about it for a minute; all social functions and entertainment diversions run in the neighborhood of two-hours in length. Eating out; two-hours. Go to a movie; two hours. Go to the theater; two-hours. Your daughter’s soccer game; two hours. Or your other son’s basketball game; two-hours.
Society is used to two-hour segments for most everything they do for entertainment . . . and they prefer it that way.
Enter, the misguided world of amateur wrestling and the question is; why do we always seem to overlook, and/or disregard the needs of our customer base?
I know why, but to write it here, would only make those who call the scheduling shots dig their heels just to be right, or, if they’re coaches, they want to wrestle more matches than they are interested in their administrators being able to pay for.
But surprise, it’s a well know fact, just not to the wrestling coaches though, that AD’s are tired of picking up the financial slack, and having to put up with the selfishness of coaches.
If there is such a thing as a defense, it’s this; the more matches a coach can have his athletes competing in, the better off they’ll be by the end of the season. The only possible exception; injuries.
Granted, coaches tend to say, “the hell with dual meets. “I can get my wrestlers in so many more matches if I schedule triangulars, quadrangulars, dual meet tournaments, or the always popular individual all-day events.” That’s typically good news. The bad is with each of those multi match marathons; our fan base becomes more and more extinct.
With no exception, other than the NCAA tournament which just ended, dual meets out draw all the other types of events by a wide margin.
So, the message to the coaches is . . . someone has to pay for your program to have: uniforms, mats to wrestle on, the availability of transportation for your away meets, janitorial services when the events are home, the gym being heated, money to pay the ticket takers, and of course, enough of the green stuff left over to cover the costs of the officials’, and coaches’ salaries.
It’s either the fans in the stands that are keeping a program alive, or, in the absence of fans, the money has to come from the generosity of athletic administrators.
But, in wrestling, when you remember that no high school or collegiate program makes money, or breaks even, at least as of the last time those numbers were reported, it’s the kindness of your AD that is covering the sports deficit.
And, if you’d ask them, assuming your administration would tell you the truth, they would say, “Were really tired of covering your red ink, especially when it appears you don’t care what we have to go through, nor do you know what the word empathy means.”
None of that is good for the sport and why wrestling has to refocus its attention on dual meets.