Some feel that FILA has taken a step back after many steps forward. I'd rather look at it as a shirt with another wrinkle left to iron. Progress is being made, but invariably we will encounter some difficulties. One can be happy about two things. First the rules as they stand now are still better than the old rules, and second, those responsible for creating these rules are making overtures towards transparency, something heretofore unprecedented among the higher ups at FILA.
While the seven-point tech fall does bother people, I think the majority of the issue is taken up by the throw rules. The idea that a single well-executed throw can end a match is a concept native to judo. At wrestling's most fundamental center lies the idea that the ultimate end of a match is the pinning of a competitor's back to the mat. While rewarding what are now referred to as "grand amplitude" throws (rather than "high amplitude," though I think the qualifier "grand" is an old term in the sport that has been resurrected) with instant victory may incentivize more aesthetically pleasing throws, it takes us farther away from the idea of the match-ending pin.
I should also note that the introduction of the throw rules skew noticeably in favor of Greco-Roman, which may need to resort to radical measures, such as these throw rules, to increase its appeal to viewers on the Olympic level. I'm sure the throw rules were introduced with visions of poster worthy throws dancing in the heads of the authors. This is a clear attempt to use the rules to engineer excitement in the sport. The problem is that freestyle, even under the previous rules, wasn't really in need of excitement. Its rules just needed to be streamlined. Greco is the sport which suffers from rampant inaction and a dearth of scoring. I have to imagine that the throw rules were included almost exclusively to benefit Greco.
Previously I alluded to the gesture of transparency which accompanied the publication of the rules. FILA vice president and former World champion Stan Dziedzic produced a document on Facebook defending each of the rule changes item by item. We should be encouraged by this, this shows that FILA takes seriously the need for openness and accountability. That said, Mr. Dziedzic's attempt at clearing the air ironically generates its own murk. I notice three issues in the document which could use additional explanation.
First Mr. Dziedzic's discussion of the HERACLES system ...
Some of the suggested changes, unfortunately, required too much time to reprogram the HERACLES system and possibly would require previously signed venue contracts to be renegotiated. Therefore, because of these logistical problems, it was agreed to table these changes for further discussion at a later date.I am a simple fan. I don't know what the HERACLES system is. I assume it is some sort of scoring software. This makes me wonder, why would changes in software constitute material enough changes to necessitate the renegotiation of venue contracts? Furthermore, I really believe that Mr. Dziedzic ought to have taken this opportunity to explain exactly which suggested rule changes had to be tabled.
Allow me to make it clear; none of the suggestions is either Mikhail Mamashvili's or mine. Instead, they are the collective views of spectators, media; AND MOST SIGNIFICANTLY, some of the BEST WRESTLERS and COACHES in the WORLD -- past and present.I never suspected that Mr. Mamashvili exerted any undue influence over these rule changes, that is, until this denial of his undue influence was issued in Mr. Dziedzic's statement. This passage raises the additional process question. We have input in the form of opinions from a world's worth of great coaches and athletes, and we have the output in the form of these new rules; what methodology was put into place to change the input into output? One would like to know the answers to several questions. How were the opinions collected? How were they tabulated? Was the same weight given to each opinion?
Stan Dziedzic (Photo/Larry Slater)Simply stating that the opinion of many others was involved in a decision without explaining how does not provide transparency, it actually fosters opacity.
My last issue with Mr. Dziedzic's statement has to do with an omission rather than an assertion. Nowhere in the document does he address the most radical and controversial aspect of the new rules -- the throw rules.
The problem with publicly defending one's actions lies with the fact that the entirety of the actions must be defended; picking and choosing undermines the rest of the defense. I like the fact that FILA is trying to explain itself. I am optimistic that the substance of these explanations will improve in the future.