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mg113

Spencer Lee documentary gives no explanation for 2019 losses

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziAVn78-2Xk

So the BTN released this Spencer Lee documentary, which goes over Lee's entire wrestling history but almost completely glosses over the 2019 season. I remember Lee's losses, which included him getting pinned pretty vividly and I remember them being the top story in all of NCAA wrestling that year. Lots of people wrote him off and said he was done. I also remember Brands and Lee completely dodging questions about what was going on and why Lee somehow went from being a hulk smasher to barely squeaking by against average wrestlers in a matter of a week. The documentary devotes about all of 30 seconds to the losses that year, they showed a few clips and ran a couple quotes about how hard on himself he was but they still don't mention what actually was going on.

I really don't care what the reason was, if Brands had just came out and said his knee was acting up I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but to continually and purposely ignore the situation seems bizarre to me. I have never watched a sports documentary that would gloss over that big of a moment of an athlete's career like that, especially one that ended in redemption. What gives?

Edited by mg113

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If he indeed had a legitimate reason for not performing up to the expectations that were around him going into the 2019 season, what would be the point of coming out and saying anything? He still won the title and it would just be viewed as an excuse and he would be bashed for it. Hell, he was bashed just for the rumors spread by the fanbase about something being up. Folks claiming the competition had just caught up to him. As a wrestling fan, I am curious what was going on, but there's no benefit to Lee to spend any time dwelling on it. The way he's wrestling now, he's past any of that anyways. There's only a few senior level guys in the US that can hang with him and probably only a handful in the world.

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9 minutes ago, jp157 said:

Some like their privacy 

Wrestling culture, especially at the highest level, is perplexing.  Many sports will dissect an unexpected loss to the finest detail.  Boxer's will have entire documentaries detailing a bad training camp, lingering injury, family issues, etc.  But, and I think mainly because the highest level of folkstyle is only at the college level, wrestlers live by "any reason given, for a negative result, is simply an excuse".

The above is the one part I HATE about wrestling.  There is some archaic belief that mind over matter actually works on injuries or illnesses and admitting there was one somehow eliminates your power over it and makes it real.  I mean I half expect Witch Doctors to be running around these guys when they are awake and in their dreams when they are sleeping.  There is NO SHAME in being injured or ill.  It happens to everyone.  If you didn't do your best because of it, anyone with a brain would understand.  Hiding it , after the fact, just doesn't make sense to me and I really don't see the benefit........ 

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4 minutes ago, Crotalus said:

If he indeed had a legitimate reason for not performing up to the expectations that were around him going into the 2019 season, what would be the point of coming out and saying anything? He still won the title and it would just be viewed as an excuse and he would be bashed for it. Hell, he was bashed just for the rumors spread by the fanbase about something being up. Folks claiming the competition had just caught up to him. As a wrestling fan, I am curious what was going on, but there's no benefit to Lee to spend any time dwelling on it. The way he's wrestling now, he's past any of that anyways. There's only a few senior level guys in the US that can hang with him and probably only a handful in the world.

There is NO benefit to not saying something either.  If it was true that he just wasn't at his best then say that.  If he was ill, say it.  If he had a nagging injury, say it.  None of those things change who he is or what he has accomplished.

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2 minutes ago, MSU158 said:

Wrestling culture, especially at the highest level, is perplexing.  Many sports will dissect an unexpected loss to the finest detail.  Boxer's will have entire documentaries detailing a bad training camp, lingering injury, family issues, etc.  But, and I think mainly because the highest level of folkstyle is only at the college level, wrestlers live by "any reason given, for a negative result, is simply an excuse".

The above is the one part I HATE about wrestling.  There is some archaic belief that mind over matter actually works on injuries or illnesses and admitting there was one somehow eliminates your power over it and makes it real.  I mean I half expect Witch Doctors to be running around these guys when they are awake and in their dreams when they are sleeping.  There is NO SHAME in being injured or ill.  It happens to everyone.  If you didn't do your best because of it, anyone with a brain would understand.  Hiding it , after the fact, just doesn't make sense to me and I really don't see the benefit........ 

It is just self respect.   Nobody wants to be a whiner.

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17 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

It is just self respect.   Nobody wants to be a whiner.

So, saying you had a torn ACL is whining?  How about McDonough?  I mean his ENTIRE wrestling skillset changed.  He went from a guy that finishes EVERY shot attempt once he touches a leg, to struggling mightily to do so.  Then, he ends up having shoulder surgery right after the season ended.  He would have been a whiner for simply saying he was injured?  Instead he was a "MAN" for not saying anything?

That is ridiculous logic.  There is a GIANT difference between giving a reason and giving an excuse.  Now, I am not saying you should be running around saying it.  But, if you are asked a direct question, I see no benefit to not answering it honestly.

Edited by MSU158

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1 hour ago, mg113 said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziAVn78-2Xk

So the BTN released this Spencer Lee documentary, which goes over Lee's entire wrestling history but almost completely glosses over the 2019 season. I remember Lee's losses, which included him getting pinned pretty vividly and I remember them being the top story in all of NCAA wrestling that year. Lots of people wrote him off and said he was done. I also remember Brands and Lee completely dodging questions about what was going on and why Lee somehow went from being a hulk smasher to barely squeaking by against average wrestlers in a matter of a week. The documentary devotes about all of 30 seconds to the losses that year, they showed a few clips and ran a couple quotes about how hard on himself but they still don't mention what actually was going on.

I really don't care what the reason was, if Brands had just came out and said his knee was acting up I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but to continually and purposely ignore the situation seems bizarre to me. I have never watched a sports documentary that would gloss over that big of a moment of an athlete's career like that, especially one that ended in redemption. What gives?

Totally agree that the issue of whether/what Lee's ailment was in 2019 is a huge story/giant question mark, and that a documentary that purports to delve into all elements of his career would do everything it could to describe and explain it.  My guess as stated above is mono, or another virus.

Not sure I agree that that was THIS documentary's responsibility.  It's BTN, not an objective journalism outlet.  Furthermore, they may have tried to get the answer, for all we know; I'm sure that if they did try, they would have gotten zilch from Brands or Spencer, so at that point do they want to spend their time in the final product on zilch?  

As also noted above, this is a very common approach by wrestlers which makes the sport quite distinctive.  McDonough, 2x champ, 3x finalist, one of the great wrestlers in the country, not even AA'ing and not saying squat when something was clearly not right with him was maybe the best example.  The stoicism and refusal to make excuses is something you have to admire.

Disagree that no sports documentary has glossed over such a big moment.  Good recent example:  The Tiger Woods HBO feature didn't cover in any depth or make any special note of his getting his ass kicked in the 2009 PGA.  This was just a few months, and his last major, before his life imploded, so it was temporally highly material, and the subject matter was remarkable:  He had never once lost a 54 hole lead in a major, but he proceeded to play a nothing round, complete with passive body language and confused looks on his face, as Y.E. Yang, a 37 year old journeyman's journeyman from South Korea took it to him and stomped him in exactly the way Tiger had previously, every time, done to every one who he played head-to-head like that.  "Tiger nervous," Yang said to his caddie after Yang didn't back down.  This couldn't have been a more relevant point to a true telling of the Tiger story.  He in  fact crumbled on the course before he crumbled in his personal life, and he went ten more years unable to close a major, even while having several very good years.  But the filmmakers ignored it.  Not sure why, maybe because this truism (that he had lost his nerve even when playing well) clashed with their redemption story at the end of the documentary with the 2019 Masters win, when his intimidation came back for one weekend.  Also the Woods documentary did not even mention any of the multiple on-course issues in 2013 that came up and led to a brushfire when Brandel Chamblee accused him of cheating (again, given the endless theme in the documentary about his marital infidelities, couldn't be more relevant).  

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Yeah.  This is a thread that deserves only one response and not much more.  It really doesn't matter why he may have lost.  He's clearly not dwelling on it and needs no explanation.  Everyone loses, even almighty Cael. Sadulaev will lose again, eventually.  Is an explanation required?  Not really. Stuff happens.

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1 hour ago, uncle bernard said:

There's a strange thing in wrestling where guys don't want to talk about their injuries/illnesses if they don't have to. I'm not sure McDonough ever came out and said what was wrong his senior year. Gabe Dean only very recently talked about his senior year rib injury. 

And his bad breakup and then the girl showed up for NCAAs!

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2 minutes ago, treep2000 said:

Yeah.  This is a thread that deserves only one response and not much more.  It really doesn't matter why he may have lost.  He's clearly not dwelling on it and needs no explanation.  Everyone loses, even almighty Cael. Sadulaev will lose again, eventually.  Is an explanation required?  Not really. Stuff happens.

You must not be a fan of pro sports, right?  I mean those guys HAVE TO make time for the media and are blasted for extreme details about EVERYTHING.  Why?  Because a ton of fans, and sometime sports betters, really want to know.  

I know wrestling isn't "Pro" but for fans of wrestling, DI is as close as many are really going to get.  As such, there are people that want to know.

I mean, in my time there was next to no media and either ESPN tape delayed or AWN wrote an article you may have written months later, so of course none of this mattered then.  But, I do now find myself curious when you see someone perform considerably under their norm.  Because, I do know how many factors can influence a DI athlete.  I mean even pro athletes don't have to worry about midterms or finals and most have lived on their own long enough to know how to handle daily life.  So, many "off matches" can be attributed to simple College Life.  However, when someone like Spencer Lee seems so far off from his norm, it is hard not to want to know why!

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50 minutes ago, MSU158 said:

So, saying you had a torn ACL is whining?  How about McDonough?  I mean his ENTIRE wrestling skillset changed.  He went from a guy that finishes EVERY shot attempt once he touches a leg, to struggling mightily to do so.  Then, he ends up having shoulder surgery right after the season ended.  He would have been a whiner for simply saying he was injured?  Instead he was a "MAN" for not saying anything?

That is ridiculous logic.  There is a GIANT difference between giving a reason and giving an excuse.  Now, I am not saying you should be running around saying it.  But, if you are asked a direct question, I see no benefit to not answering it honestly.

It is just how they think.  It just doesn't help. My kid made it all the way to R12 one year with no ligaments attached to his thumb. Nasty injury for wrestling.   He cried his eyes out till well after the surgery, but he's never said a word about that thumb.

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16 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

It is just how they think.  It just doesn't help. My kid made it all the way to R12 one year with no ligaments attached to his thumb. Nasty injury for wrestling.   He cried his eyes out till well after the surgery, but he's never said a word about that thumb.

First off, so sorry.  I have so much respect for every DI wrestler and know how hard it is to wrestle through injuries, especially ones that keep you from attaining your goals.  Making the R12 is a HUGE achievement for a healthy wrestler.  Being able to do it with essentially 1 hand(without a thumb in wrestling the hand doesn't mean much) is VERY IMPRESSIVE.

Please understand, I wasn't saying during so much as AFTER and you shouldn't have to volunteer anything.   I  just don't see any issue with saying, hey I hate excuses and don't really want to go into great detail, but if you are asking, yeah such and such happened.  

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2 hours ago, Crotalus said:

If he indeed had a legitimate reason for not performing up to the expectations that were around him going into the 2019 season, what would be the point of coming out and saying anything? He still won the title and it would just be viewed as an excuse and he would be bashed for it. Hell, he was bashed just for the rumors spread by the fanbase about something being up. Folks claiming the competition had just caught up to him. As a wrestling fan, I am curious what was going on, but there's no benefit to Lee to spend any time dwelling on it. The way he's wrestling now, he's past any of that anyways. There's only a few senior level guys in the US that can hang with him and probably only a handful in the world.

Yeah but this was a documentary not a press conference. Even if he wasn't completely candid about what happened, most athletes are at least somewhat open about their lows in their career, especially for a documentary. Usually an athlete will at least be like "I was dealing with some personal issues at the time" or "I was really banged up for awhile," but to intentionally omit that significant moment in his college career seems bizarre to me. 

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4 hours ago, mg113 said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziAVn78-2Xk

So the BTN released this Spencer Lee documentary, which goes over Lee's entire wrestling history but almost completely glosses over the 2019 season. I remember Lee's losses, which included him getting pinned pretty vividly and I remember them being the top story in all of NCAA wrestling that year. Lots of people wrote him off and said he was done. I also remember Brands and Lee completely dodging questions about what was going on and why Lee somehow went from being a hulk smasher to barely squeaking by against average wrestlers in a matter of a week. The documentary devotes about all of 30 seconds to the losses that year, they showed a few clips and ran a couple quotes about how hard on himself but they still don't mention what actually was going on.

I really don't care what the reason was, if Brands had just came out and said his knee was acting up I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but to continually and purposely ignore the situation seems bizarre to me. I have never watched a sports documentary that would gloss over that big of a moment of an athlete's career like that, especially one that ended in redemption. What gives?

I really don’t think the documentary “glosses over the 2019 season” because there is nothing to gloss over, as there was nothing aberrational about it. Don’t confuse your recollection of mindless message board chatter with actual facts. 

It is a myth that 2019 was a “bad year” for Lee as it wasn’t much different from the prior year, or even after. Lee lost to two guys in 2018 (Bresser, Tomasello), two guys in 2019 (Piccininni, Rivera), and, with his weight largely cleared out, none since. None of these guys he lost to are slouches. In both 2018 and 2019, he avenged a season loss at NCAAs, and won it. He had the same number of regular decision wins in 2018 and 2019 (four).  Bonus point wins are also comparable (and actually highest in 2019):  18 in 2018, 19 in 2019, and 16 in 2020 (minus NCAAs). 

With numbers this consistent, why are some saying that 2019 was some sort of disastrous year that requires special discussion in a documentary? Honestly I think is because when he first lost to Rivera, It was a shock, as Rivera was not thought to be on the same level as Lee. That sent the message boards all a-titter with “What’s wrong with Spencer” and “I really enjoyed the Spencer Lee era” threads.  But subsequent events showed that Rivera had dramatically improved and was simply better than most thought, not that Lee was worse. Even with Picc, he was undefeated at the time and it’s not like he dominated Lee — he had scored zero offensive points on him when he managed to slap on a cradle, which is always a risk for the diminutive Lee against lanky opponents of Picc’s skill level.

Yeah, maybe Lee caught the flu or mono or whatever, so maybe his conditioning was slightly off for a few weeks in 2019, but that is message board stuff, not the Biggest Wrestling Story of 2019. Bringing it up in a documentary would sound weird and unprofessional. And it would be a non sequitur:  Even if Lee were perfectly healthy, his overall results that year are right in line with his results the year before and after.

Edited by BAC

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6 hours ago, mg113 said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziAVn78-2Xk

So the BTN released this Spencer Lee documentary, which goes over Lee's entire wrestling history but almost completely glosses over the 2019 season. I remember Lee's losses, which included him getting pinned pretty vividly and I remember them being the top story in all of NCAA wrestling that year. Lots of people wrote him off and said he was done. I also remember Brands and Lee completely dodging questions about what was going on and why Lee somehow went from being a hulk smasher to barely squeaking by against average wrestlers in a matter of a week. The documentary devotes about all of 30 seconds to the losses that year, they showed a few clips and ran a couple quotes about how hard on himself he was but they still don't mention what actually was going on.

I really don't care what the reason was, if Brands had just came out and said his knee was acting up I wouldn't have given it a second thought, but to continually and purposely ignore the situation seems bizarre to me. I have never watched a sports documentary that would gloss over that big of a moment of an athlete's career like that, especially one that ended in redemption. What gives?

I thought it was excellent and they DID discuss his losses. They showed him losing to Piccini and Rivera. They did not dwell on why he lost. The one thing I would have liked to see is what Cael has to say or even one of the PSU assistants. But maybe they would not have cooperated.

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3 hours ago, MSU158 said:

You must not be a fan of pro sports, right?  I mean those guys HAVE TO make time for the media and are blasted for extreme details about EVERYTHING.  Why?  Because a ton of fans, and sometime sports betters, really want to know.  

I know wrestling isn't "Pro" but for fans of wrestling, DI is as close as many are really going to get.  As such, there are people that want to know.

I mean, in my time there was next to no media and either ESPN tape delayed or AWN wrote an article you may have written months later, so of course none of this mattered then.  But, I do now find myself curious when you see someone perform considerably under their norm.  Because, I do know how many factors can influence a DI athlete.  I mean even pro athletes don't have to worry about midterms or finals and most have lived on their own long enough to know how to handle daily life.  So, many "off matches" can be attributed to simple College Life.  However, when someone like Spencer Lee seems so far off from his norm, it is hard not to want to know why!

You are correct.  I do not like pro sports.  I worked in professional sports for about 5 years as a marketing director. Knowing how that sausage is made makes you not really like sausage after a while.  

These are college age men that aren't getting paid for their following/exploits.  Learning about their careers is insightful and helps tell the story.  Mining into why Spencer got pinned by Pick-a-knee-knee isn't really part of the story.  More of a speed bump that he swiftly overcame.

If Spencer goes pro and we have that faction of our sport, I'll still appreciate the storylines, but yes, I'll shy away from the oversensationalism of faux celebrity and vanity.  

Edited by treep2000

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2 hours ago, BAC said:

I really don’t think the documentary “glosses over the 2019 season” because there is nothing to gloss over, as there was nothing aberrational about it. Don’t confuse your recollection of mindless message board chatter with actual facts. 

It is a myth that 2019 was a “bad year” for Lee as it wasn’t much different from the prior year, or even after. Lee lost to two guys in 2018 (Bresser, Tomasello), two guys in 2019 (Piccininni, Rivera), and, with his weight largely cleared out, none since. None of these guys he lost to are slouches. In both 2018 and 2019, he avenged a season loss at NCAAs, and won it. He had the same number of regular decision wins in 2018 and 2019 (four).  Bonus point wins are also comparable (and actually highest in 2019):  18 in 2018, 19 in 2019, and 16 in 2020 (minus NCAAs). 

With numbers this consistent, why are some saying that 2019 was some sort of disastrous year that requires special discussion in a documentary? Honestly I think is because when he first lost to Rivera, It was a shock, as Rivera was not thought to be on the same level as Lee. That sent the message boards all a-titter with “What’s wrong with Spencer” and “I really enjoyed the Spencer Lee era” threads.  But subsequent events showed that Rivera had dramatically improved and was simply better than most thought, not that Lee was worse. Even with Picc, he was undefeated at the time and it’s not like he dominated Lee — he had scored zero offensive points on him when he managed to slap on a cradle, which is always a risk for the diminutive Lee against lanky opponents of Picc’s skill level.

Yeah, maybe Lee caught the flu or mono or whatever, so maybe his conditioning was slightly off for a few weeks in 2019, but that is message board stuff, not the Biggest Wrestling Story of 2019. Bringing it up in a documentary would sound weird and unprofessional. And it would be a non sequitur:  Even if Lee were perfectly healthy, his overall results that year are right in line with his results the year before and after.

All accurate and relevant info but I think that there are other good reasons for people's subjective views about his 2019. 

In 2018 we knew that he had a serious physical impairment. He'd had major knee surgery less than a year before and he was wearing a huge knee brace.  He did have a physical problem, it was disclosed and fully known, and you couldn't miss it when he stepped on the mat.  So when he gassed vs Bresser and was tentative in some other pre NCAA matches, it made sense.

He had similar performances in 2019.  Multiple times over a longish period of time he didn't look like himself at all, including big matches (Midlands final, OkState in front of 13,000) where he didn't lose very close matches like he had in 2018 (and in 2017 state final on the one leg) -- but got stomped.  Plus unexplained absences from matches (I know, I froze standing in line for tickets at Northwestern and then got a good look at him standing next to Terry in his civilian clothes when I got in the arena). But this time no explanation -- no diagnosis, no surgery, etc.  Thus it was easy to infer that he had a serious physical impairment and to wonder what it was since there was no brace, tape, or other wrap that explained what was going on.  But no explanation for what was going on with the most high profile wrestler (deservedly so) in the country. 

Also, and I think this is important, after he got his groove back in 2018 he was SPENCER LEE.  That guy in the tiny knee pad at 2018 NCAAs --18-0, 18-0, fall over strong AA (Picc), fall over former champ, dominant decision over future champ -- took the arena and a really good field by storm, a visceral performance by a predator.  He wasn't nearly the same at 2019 NCAAs; although he wasn't in any real danger of losing, he didn't have four falls to the finals and he wasn't as convincing in the final against an opponent not as good. A mortal champion rather than a killing machine, if you will.

Then in the 2019-20 season, back to his badass 2018 and pre high school knee surgery self. Hodge Trophy and a freestyle nationals similar to his 2018 NCAAs -- total domination in blitzing an excellent field.  So the 2019 season sticks out in between.  Weeks of relatively flat performances without a public explanation for such as we had to understand his uneven pre-NCAA 2018 season.  

That's why the interest in what happened.  That interest was keen at the time and apparently was triggered in the OP by the documentary.  I have no beef with Spencer on this, this is a guy who could have packed in his senior HS season, gotten surgery, and been better positioned for college, but instead put it on the line with nothing to gain against one of the best in the country, was not himself with the injury and lack of training, lost on a questionable call, got treated terribly by the home state fans, and never complained once.  Same guy who wasn't gonna answer the questions in or about 2019.  

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Exactly. You're not crazy for thinking something was off with Spencer ever since Midlands that year. His first few matches were normal Spencer, then gasses HARD to Pat glory (who he teched in the second period a month before) and doesn't score a point in the period, then gets dominated by Sebastian (a guy who Lee was 2-0 against, including a major in their last match). In his next match he goes 4-0 against Sean Russell, looking sluggish the whole time. He pins a few scrubs, and got a major against Moisey who he should have easily tech/pinned - again, looking super weak and sluggish the entire time. Gets pinned by Picc (a guy who Lee was 2-0 against, including a pin in their last match). He lost again in the B10 finals to Rivera. He looked miraculously better at NCAA's, but not like his former self. Contrast that with the next two seasons and it's obvious that something was going on with him.

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4 hours ago, MSU158 said:

First off, so sorry.  I have so much respect for every DI wrestler and know how hard it is to wrestle through injuries, especially ones that keep you from attaining your goals.  Making the R12 is a HUGE achievement for a healthy wrestler.  Being able to do it with essentially 1 hand(without a thumb in wrestling the hand doesn't mean much) is VERY IMPRESSIVE.

Please understand, I wasn't saying during so much as AFTER and you shouldn't have to volunteer anything.   I  just don't see any issue with saying, hey I hate excuses and don't really want to go into great detail, but if you are asking, yeah such and such happened.  

Thanks for the kind words.  I think some feel they just have to accept the outcome as the outcome.  When I told him the thumb set him back, he shrugged and said his opponent was taped up as well and he didn't know what he had to overcome.

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