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USA Wrestling--Black Male Athletes' Experience

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I am really surprised that there is not more discussion about this on this board.   Maybe I should see that as a positive thing? Everyone hears what these guys are saying and will do all we can to help, so no discussion needed.

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Youth wrestling seems worse that HS and above. A select few refs are like the ones described by Monday and some of the parents are OMG ugly in competition.  Unfortunately, schmucks like the one screaming obscenities at Gadsen will never go away.

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I've encountered some of the worst racism in wrestling honestly. Most of the leadership roles or "old guard" kind of coaches either are overtly racist or use sort of a coded language.  I know that there are a few coaches, and when I say old guard I mean guys who wrestled in the 60's and 70's, who don't see race at all and treat everybody the same basically.  But they are far and few between.  It isn't just the old wave though, one high school coach I was an assistant to used a racial slur to refer to our only black wrestler in private and I was stunned to hear it.  But some of the worst language I've ever heard on race has come from other coaches who privately will say some pretty abhorrent things.  A lot of the people I've heard saying that stuff, it's because they think since I'm in the coaching world I have similar beliefs, but then they'll go out and say or do things completely opposite when people are watching. Maybe it's more acceptable or something, I don't know.  But it's pretty shocking to hear that kind of thing. 

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1 hour ago, TripNSweep said:

I've encountered some of the worst racism in wrestling honestly. Most of the leadership roles or "old guard" kind of coaches either are overtly racist or use sort of a coded language.  I know that there are a few coaches, and when I say old guard I mean guys who wrestled in the 60's and 70's, who don't see race at all and treat everybody the same basically.  But they are far and few between.  It isn't just the old wave though, one high school coach I was an assistant to used a racial slur to refer to our only black wrestler in private and I was stunned to hear it.  But some of the worst language I've ever heard on race has come from other coaches who privately will say some pretty abhorrent things.  A lot of the people I've heard saying that stuff, it's because they think since I'm in the coaching world I have similar beliefs, but then they'll go out and say or do things completely opposite when people are watching. Maybe it's more acceptable or something, I don't know.  But it's pretty shocking to hear that kind of thing. 

If you see where wrestling has thrived, historically, it is typically in more rural areas of the country. So, not too surprised with this...sadly.  

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FRL did a pretty good job of talking about this today. Ben Askren had some pretty good perspective. I was pleasantly surprised. 

Example: People's celebrations. What gets booed, what gets cheered. I love my dad, but he's done that before, granted it was a long time ago. But it only happened when it was a POC. He's come a long way since then.

Also, Askren called Pat Downey a moron. That was great.

Edited by Le duke

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Had no idea that Gabe Townsell had been through as much as he has.  That's definitely an example of how a lot of people really have no idea what some of these guys have had to deal with in their lives.

One other thing that also stuck out to me was James Green's comments about being accused of stealing at a tournament - and that he remembers (rightfully so) incidents like that for a long time.   

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2 hours ago, Husker_Du said:

Trip you're from Arizona, correct? (not that it matters, just interested in context)

Yeah but a lot of people who live here aren't from here.  Most of the successful high school coaches came from other places like Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, etc.  We are very transient state with a hisoritcally low population that until the last 15 or so years wasn't very big.  Because of that there's not too many born and raised people here, though that's been changing in the last few years.  But it's not really endemic to this state either, I've heard coaches and even guys considered to be legends in wrestling say some pretty awful stuff about black people or other minorities.  Even people on this board I've actually met or know in real life have said some pretty bad stuff, either thinking I had a difference opinion in private or they just didn't give a **** what I thought.  There's a lot of racism and prejudice in wrestling, but it's mostly kept below the surface.  If it was more open and rampant, you'd see a lot of changes at the top for USAW.  

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Code word in a certain state's redneck coaching lexicon:  "athletes." 

Example:  "XXXXX High School has a bunch of athletes on their team.  All you have to do is weather the first period and you will be fine."  

You can figure out what it means very quickly.  The kids knew too.  Shameful.

Edited by matts1w

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2 hours ago, matts1w said:

Code word in a certain state's redneck coaching lexicon:  "athletes." 

Example:  "XXXXX High School has a bunch of athletes on their team.  All you have to do is weather the first period and you will be fine."  

You can figure out what it means very quickly.  Shameful.

I know of a coach here who used to call it "N word strength".  Haven't seen him in years so no idea if it got sidelined finally or even if he's still coaching.  Another coach I know who used to post here said he would encourage black wrestlers to join the military and do WCAP since they were better suited for Greco and wouldn't fare well in college.  

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52 minutes ago, TripNSweep said:

I know of a coach here who used to call it "N word strength".  Haven't seen him in years so no idea if it got sidelined finally or even if he's still coaching.  Another coach I know who used to post here said he would encourage black wrestlers to join the military and do WCAP since they were better suited for Greco and wouldn't fare well in college.

Edited by jchapman

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1 hour ago, LHU125 said:

Was watching a dual meet this past year and a caster mentioned that a black wrestler "looked fast" 5 seconds into action. It's the little things like that and once you realize it's a problem, you realize it is far more common than you think. 

There's subtle racism in the community such as that, and then there's blatant racism like the stories told in that USAW video or kids at a wrestling camp writing "BBQ Chicken" on a black student's dorm door.  The latter incident is when I learned upstate NY can be as racist as anywhere in the country.  

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14 hours ago, TripNSweep said:

Yeah but a lot of people who live here aren't from here.  Most of the successful high school coaches came from other places like Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, etc.  We are very transient state with a hisoritcally low population that until the last 15 or so years wasn't very big.  Because of that there's not too many born and raised people here, though that's been changing in the last few years.  But it's not really endemic to this state either, I've heard coaches and even guys considered to be legends in wrestling say some pretty awful stuff about black people or other minorities.  Even people on this board I've actually met or know in real life have said some pretty bad stuff, either thinking I had a difference opinion in private or they just didn't give a **** what I thought.  There's a lot of racism and prejudice in wrestling, but it's mostly kept below the surface.  If it was more open and rampant, you'd see a lot of changes at the top for USAW.  

It's truly systemic and the percentage in wrestling almost assuredly is no different than it is EVERYWHERE.  Racial prejudices are so much more cultural than simple viewpoints of "color".  Hell, I would bet that nearly 100% of white people have used the n word to describe a black person. 

It isn't as simple as equality.  It is more exclusively based on inclusion.  As long as the societal differences are so monumental, hatred will remain on BOTH sides.  Hatred and fear are often fueled by lack of understanding.  Detroit is the most racially segregated city in the U.S.  As a result, there is a GIANT gap between white and black.  Those living in the suburbs have clearly defined the borders of Detroit since I was a kid and so did those living in Detroit.  Whites didn't go south of "8 Mile Rd." and blacks didn't come north.  

Protests, marches and guilt are NOT going to make any lasting headway.  Daily life integration is the ONLY true way to break down the walls on both sides.  You need to be living next to each other.  Going to school together.  Playing together. Working together.  Sharing similar interests.  I simply don't see any other way........

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12 minutes ago, MSU158 said:

It's truly systemic and the percentage in wrestling almost assuredly is no different than it is EVERYWHERE.  Racial prejudices are so much more cultural than simple viewpoints of "color".  Hell, I would bet that nearly 100% of white people have used the n word to describe a black person. 

It isn't as simple as equality.  It is more exclusively based on inclusion.  As long as the societal differences are so monumental, hatred will remain on BOTH sides.  Hatred and fear are often fueled by lack of understanding.  Detroit is the most racially segregated city in the U.S.  As a result, there is a GIANT gap between white and black.  Those living in the suburbs have clearly defined the borders of Detroit since I was a kid and so did those living in Detroit.  Whites didn't go south of "8 Mile Rd." and blacks didn't come north.  

Protests, marches and guilt are NOT going to make any lasting headway.  Daily life integration is the ONLY true way to break down the walls on both sides.  You need to be living next to each other.  Going to school together.  Playing together. Working together.  Sharing similar interests.  I simply don't see any other way........

So, kinda like being on a wrestling team together?

Edited by jchapman

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I actually agree with MSU on most of what he wrote.  As for use of the "N word", I agree probably a lot of white people have said it in describing a black person.  I agree that word should never be used, but I am afraid it won't go away until "ALL" people stop using it...including in the black community.

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9 minutes ago, dman115 said:

I actually agree with MSU on most of what he wrote.  As for use of the "N word", I agree probably a lot of white people have said it in describing a black person.  I agree that word should never be used, but I am afraid it won't go away until "ALL" people stop using it...including in the black community.

It's not black people's jobs to fix racism for white people.  They can't reach inside us and change us.  That wod ha been used for centuries to demean and dehumanize them.  I get why they would take it for themselves, to try to remove the power from it.  It's possibly the most loaded word in the history of the language.  It's literally the easiest thing they could ask of us, to not use a particular word.  It takes no physical or emotional effort on our part not to use it.

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6 minutes ago, jchapman said:

So, kinda like being on a wrestling team together?

Yes, but not JUST being on a team together.  It needs to start at the youth level,  closer to a 50/50 makeup and not be the only time they are together.  Because, let's be honest, team dynamics are often very clicky.  Just because you are on the same team, does NOT mean you are friends or even have the least bit of respect for each other.

My point is simple.  The exposure has to be to the point that ignorance is wiped away.  Exposure to enough people of a different color, when the cultural gap isn't so wide, is key.  Exposure to so many important facets of life can destroy many of the stereotypes.  If people can realize that the color of skin is really the only significant difference across an entire race, the color won't matter as much.

Still, I don't see how integration on this type of scale is realistic.  You can't force it.  You can't choose what cultural model to follow.  As such, my model is probably more of a pipe dream and, unfortunately, so is expecting racism to fall any time soon.

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3 minutes ago, MSU158 said:

Yes, but not JUST being on a team together.  It needs to start at the youth level,  closer to a 50/50 makeup and not be the only time they are together.  Because, let's be honest, team dynamics are often very clicky.  Just because you are on the same team, does NOT mean you are friends or even have the least bit of respect for each other.

My point is simple.  The exposure has to be to the point that ignorance is wiped away.  Exposure to enough people of a different color, when the cultural gap isn't so wide, is key.  Exposure to so many important facets of life can destroy many of the stereotypes.  If people can realize that the color of skin is really the only significant difference across an entire race, the color won't matter as much.

Still, I don't see how integration on this type of scale is realistic.  You can't force it.  You can't choose what cultural model to follow.  As such, my model is probably more of a pipe dream and, unfortunately, so is expecting racism to fall any time soon.

I understand what you're saying, but that's on white people quite a bit, too.  "White flight" is a very real thing, unfortunately.  Both statistically and anecdotally (my parents and family both did it and talked openly about how the neighborhood had gone downhill since "they moved in".

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4 minutes ago, VakAttack said:

It's not black people's jobs to fix racism for white people.  They can't reach inside us and change us.  That wod ha been used for centuries to demean and dehumanize them.  I get why they would take it for themselves, to try to remove the power from it.  It's possibly the most loaded word in the history of the language.  It's literally the easiest thing they could ask of us, to not use a particular word.  It takes no physical or emotional effort on our part not to use it.

It's not their job but they 100% should have a part...a large part...in trying to remove as much racism from our society as possible.  Until there is the removal of the attitude of "use versus them" mentality in our society I don't think we will get anywhere near where we want to be in our society in terms of race relations.  There has to be a point when the finger's stop point back and forth...yes EVERYONE knows there was slavery and racism in the history of this country...which is terrible...but at some point there has to be a shift to progression versus blaming. 

As for the word, not sure anyone would ever argue the impact the word has, but I sure as heck can disagree that they shouldn't use it.

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1 minute ago, dman115 said:

It's not their job but they 100% should have a part...a large part...in trying to remove as much racism from our society as possible.  Until there is the removal of the attitude of "use versus them" mentality in our society I don't think we will get anywhere near where we want to be in our society in terms of race relations.  There has to be a point when the finger's stop point back and forth...yes EVERYONE knows there was slavery and racism in the history of this country...which is terrible...but at some point there has to be a shift to progression versus blaming. 

As for the word, not sure anyone would ever argue the impact the word has, but I sure as heck can disagree that they shouldn't use it.

That's part of the problematic mindset.  We as a society used it for centuries, and now that they've tried to take it away from us, we tell them "actually, we should all stop using it."

It's the same phenomena as my friends being able to say things to me a stranger can not (i.e. my friends could walk up to me at a bar and say 'f*ck you, you a$$hole" while a random person could not without an issue), just on a larger scale, which is appropriate considering the large scale of things we have done to them.

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1 minute ago, VakAttack said:

I understand what you're saying, but that's on white people quite a bit, too.  "White flight" is a very real thing, unfortunately.  Both statistically and anecdotally (my parents and family both did it and talked openly about how the neighborhood had gone downhill since "they moved in".

I never said it wasn't.  I understand blame, but simply wasn't trying to go there. My focus isn't about blame.  It is about fixing the problem.  Blame doesn't do that.  Never has.  Never really will.  You aren't going to "guilt trip" an all white neighborhood into segregating for the sake of racism.  Which is why I said my "model" probably isn't realistic any time soon.

What needs to happen is education and exposure starting at the youth level.  If you don't have integration, try to take schools that are seriously segregated and find ways to do things together.  Even then, I am not sure much will change in my lifetime......

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