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Is Wrestling Doomed?

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No magic to growing or maintaining high school numbers- build middle school and youth programs. In some areas of the country the demographics are going to make it difficult. I'm not sure what the breakdown of your figures is or where you got them but I suspect there was a drop in total enrollment for high school students is some traditional wrestling areas and all sports not just wrestling are affected.

 

Obviously if you want to get kids wrestling , you have to sell the parents and not the ones on this board , they are already sold. Poorly run kids tournaments can KILL a potential wrestling family in it's tracks. I have seen many examples of parents and grandparents waiting hours for a tournament to start and between matches to watch their beginner kid get pinned in 20 seconds. A tournament that could be run in a couple hours takes all day and parents say I'm not doing this any more.  I've been out of youth wrestling for a while so this point may be moot, if there are any single elimination tournaments still going on that needs to stop forever. I made it a point never to put my kids in one even when they were favored to win it. I'd like to see weight classes relaxed , Madison weight type thing and kids wrestle 3-5 matches at every tournament, even if they lose them all. Some type of round robin or triple elimination should be looked at. Hard ass tournament directors who ax a 10 year old for missing weight can take their share of the blame for declining numbers. ( I am not talking about some national or even state championship event where standards need to be maintained ) if you have strict weight classes , bump the kid to the next one without penalty. It's not that hard to redraw a bracket with today's programs. Most start out with byes making it a no brainer. Bottom line- if you hook the kids in 4-8th grade the high school numbers will take care of itself, but you have to first consider the parents on the fence and make it as painless as possible to get them started.

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Good article around this topic. The obsession with tournaments and kids wrestling 40-50 matches a year will be deadly to the sport.

 

http://highschoolsports.lehighvalleylive.com/news/article/5312290346612567878/ryan-nunamakers-resignation-alarm-bell-for-area-wrestling-commentary/

Yep.  I've become involved in youth wrestling over the last few years and am shocked at how demanding it can be.  Youth state tourneys feature kids with great technique but they're burned out by 12.  The brakes need to be placed on youth wrestling.

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 Football numbers are falling as well.

  To improve renewed interest in scholastic wrestling, we need to go back to re-emphasizing the dual meet. This is where you can grow a following. No one wants to sit in a gym all day for a tournament except parents. 

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There are more and more long days required in wrestling.  Kids don't want to spend all day sitting in a gym (and nor do the parents).

 

I have seen kids (and maybe as importantly, their parents) enjoy one or two matches in a short period of time and then moving on to other activities.  

 

It is only the die hard and most committed that want to spend their time traveling hours away for an all day (or multi-day) event.  Of course, some people only want the die hards to be in the sport and to cut anyone out that is not 'truely committed to wrestling' as some say.

 

It depends on what you think is good for the sport.  If you only think champions matter in wrestling, then there is nothing wrong.  But if you believe, like I do, that there is value in the sport and that it should be available for kids to enjoy at varying commitment levels, then the decline in participation numbers are very concerning.

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Football numbers are falling as well.

To improve renewed interest in scholastic wrestling, we need to go back to re-emphasizing the dual meet. This is where you can grow a following. No one wants to sit in a gym all day for a tournament except parents.

Exactly right. Except the part about parents. Even they don't want to sit in a dingy gym all day.

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In a word, No. It two words, Hell No. 

 

There are changes going on all around but if you think this sport is "doomed" then you're just fooling yourself. I think the changes we're seeing in all sports is more a function of single sport specialization than anything like singlets and time spend in dingy crowded gyms. 

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In a word, No. It two words, Hell No. 

 

There are changes going on all around but if you think this sport is "doomed" then you're just fooling yourself. I think the changes we're seeing in all sports is more a function of single sport specialization than anything like singlets and time spend in dingy crowded gyms. 

 

Let's assume that you're right and that everyone loves spending all day in the gym.

 

You don't think sport specialization that removes football players or any other sport from wrestling has a negative impact on the sport?

 

The sport requires opponents.  Opponents of all levels are necessary to allow various levels of people to find success and be competitive throughout the season.  

 

The more athletes that leave the sport, be it to focus on their primary sport, or because they are not a high level competitor or willing to spend all day in the gym, there are less opponents (and training partners) which makes events less viable and drives up costs.

 

This is especially concerning for more rural communities where extensive travel is required to find competitions. 

 

When the costs rise and the participation drops, it is justified to eliminate the sport from a school's athletic offering.  That has a significant impact to the sport and the individuals .

 

Of course, if you're in a wrestling hotbed or an area with wrestling density and therefore a wrestling surplus that can afford to sustain a contraction, then you have a luxury that most of the country doesn't have. 

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Let's assume that you're right and that everyone loves spending all day in the gym.

 

You don't think sport specialization that removes football players or any other sport from wrestling has a negative impact on the sport?

 

The sport requires opponents.  Opponents of all levels are necessary to allow various levels of people to find success and be competitive throughout the season.  

 

The more athletes that leave the sport, be it to focus on their primary sport, or because they are not a high level competitor or willing to spend all day in the gym, there are less opponents (and training partners) which makes events less viable and drives up costs.

 

This is especially concerning for more rural communities where extensive travel is required to find competitions. 

 

When the costs rise and the participation drops, it is justified to eliminate the sport from a school's athletic offering.  That has a significant impact to the sport and the individuals .

 

Of course, if you're in a wrestling hotbed or an area with wrestling density and therefore a wrestling surplus that can afford to sustain a contraction, then you have a luxury that most of the country doesn't have. 

 

Well the questions was "Is wrestling doomed?" and I said no. Now that doesn't mean it won't change nor does it mean that things will always be what the were, but the sport will always be available to those who love it. 

 

Now in saying that I'll answer a few of your questions. 

 

Football players specializing will impact the upper weight but not the sport overall. I would think soccer or baseball will have a bigger impact since those athletes tend to be more normal sized and not just giants.

 

Dollars are always a concern but it's got more to do with government mis-management and over spending on so many non-school related areas that school budgets are impacted. Way more than sports are being cut.  

 

Parents have shown a willingness, across all endeavors, to spend whatever their budget will allow to give their kids anything they can so I still don't see that as an issue. Just go to any of the RMN or Roller events and you'll see people from all walks from all 4-corners of this country. How fast does Super-32 sell out? Have you been to Virginia Beech? That place is a massive crowded madhouse.   

 

This sport is not doomed. It will change, it will evolve, it will survive. 

Edited by Zebra

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No magic to growing or maintaining high school numbers- build middle school and youth programs. In some areas of the country the demographics are going to make it difficult. I'm not sure what the breakdown of your figures is or where you got them but I suspect there was a drop in total enrollment for high school students is some traditional wrestling areas and all sports not just wrestling are affected.

 

Obviously if you want to get kids wrestling , you have to sell the parents and not the ones on this board , they are already sold. Poorly run kids tournaments can KILL a potential wrestling family in it's tracks. I have seen many examples of parents and grandparents waiting hours for a tournament to start and between matches to watch their beginner kid get pinned in 20 seconds. A tournament that could be run in a couple hours takes all day and parents say I'm not doing this any more. I've been out of youth wrestling for a while so this point may be moot, if there are any single elimination tournaments still going on that needs to stop forever. I made it a point never to put my kids in one even when they were favored to win it. I'd like to see weight classes relaxed , Madison weight type thing and kids wrestle 3-5 matches at every tournament, even if they lose them all. Some type of round robin or triple elimination should be looked at. Hard ass tournament directors who ax a 10 year old for missing weight can take their share of the blame for declining numbers. ( I am not talking about some national or even state championship event where standards need to be maintained ) if you have strict weight classes , bump the kid to the next one without penalty. It's not that hard to redraw a bracket with today's programs. Most start out with byes making it a no brainer. Bottom line- if you hook the kids in 4-8th grade the high school numbers will take care of itself, but you have to first consider the parents on the fence and make it as painless as possible to get them started.

Fantastic post. I am involved with youth and in a lot of tournaments we pool weights, seperate the bantam, midget and novice from schoolboy and cadet and in general try to make it a much less time wasting exercise. I think youth wrestling numbers are up, at least out west in NV. Im not sure about the rest of the country. Edited by ConnorsDad

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All sports are seeing the impacts of specialization. I'd be interested to see how the drop in wrestling compares to the drop in other sports. I think that specialization also has a secondary effect of making it less appealing for kids who don't want to commit themselves to wrestling year round. Starting up wrestling once football is over and getting teched and pinned constantly by kids who wrestle 365 days a year just isn't fun. Wrestling (and other youth sports) need to figure out how to allow for the year round elite kids to thrive while also giving kids who want to do other things an opportunity to win matches and tournaments against other kids on the same level.

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All sports are seeing the impacts of specialization. I'd be interested to see how the drop in wrestling compares to the drop in other sports. I think that specialization also has a secondary effect of making it less appealing for kids who don't want to commit themselves to wrestling year round. Starting up wrestling once football is over and getting teched and pinned constantly by kids who wrestle 365 days a year just isn't fun. Wrestling (and other youth sports) need to figure out how to allow for the year round elite kids to thrive while also giving kids who want to do other things an opportunity to win matches and tournaments against other kids on the same level.

 

This is the key.  We need to balance the more casual wrestlers with those that wrestle year around.  Problem is that many of the most influential wrestling coaches (like many on this forum) are only concerned about winning championships and see little value in those that aren't making the commitment.

 

We are losing a lot of talent by not being accomodating to athletes of other sports.  Was J'den Cox always focused on wrestling?  I do know of a fair share of college wrestlers that started wrestling casually later in life but after a few years started to do well and ended up deciding they wanted to continue in college despite having the option to compete in another sport.

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This is the key.  We need to balance the more casual wrestlers with those that wrestle year around.  Problem is that many of the most influential wrestling coaches (like many on this forum) are only concerned about winning championships and see little value in those that aren't making the commitment.

 

We are losing a lot of talent by not being accomodating to athletes of other sports.  Was J'den Cox always focused on wrestling?  I do know of a fair share of college wrestlers that started wrestling casually later in life but after a few years started to do well and ended up deciding they wanted to continue in college despite having the option to compete in another sport.

I too took the word DOOMED as hyperbole but not the sentiment behind it.

 

 

There are ways to do this and some tournaments and series have "Varsity" and "rookie" divisions. This is a way to expand opportunities for those who are not ready or capable of being competitive with the "elite" wrestlers. 

 

You can also have pools so lesser level kids get more matches, or even "last chance" brackets for wrestlers who go 0-2 or 1-2. 

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There are a few very simple thigs that can be done to fix wrestling at a HS level:

 

1. ban all weight cutting, not even a pound. if someone is found to have cut weight, end their season, fire coaches who enable it. 

2. change singlet to a more flattering less revealing uniform. Flo's uniforms are perfect or close enough IMO

3. put a cap on tournament runtime, say 6 hours. That's more than enough. Smaller tournaments, less waiting, more wrestling

4. allow 3 tournaments per season not including post season. only one 2 day tournament per season as well. 

5. limit HS practice time (including lifts) to 120 minutes. Too often it is 3 hours long... 

6. mandate 2 off days per week. 

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i sometimes wonder if i live in the same wrestling world as many of you.

 

Of the problems listed here there is a ton of

1) things i don't see/hear

2) conjecture

3) flat out contradictions

Edited by Husker_Du

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