InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
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In the aftermath of IOC Executive Committee's recommendation to remove wrestling from the Olympics, many wrestling fans were left with resentment towards FILA, the international governing body of wrestling. President Rafeal Martinetti had disappointed millions of wrestling fans in the month's leading up to the February vote when he ignored the continued pleas of the IOC to make substantive and progressive change. That stubbornness cost wrestling its position in the Olympics, jeopardized the future of a sport, and left wrestling fans to tremble with rage.
For the first few months of the #SaveOlympicWrestling campaign, FILA was the target of the wrestling communities collective discontent. They'd fired Martinetti, hired PR whizzes, implemented rule changes, established a relationship with the IOC and hosted several unique press events and still they were left to be critiqued for inadequacies instead of supported through their period of upheaval.
Common sense dictates that a fractured international wrestling community is less powerful than one that is unified. FILA will be wrestling's voice on Sept. 8 in Buenos Aires and they can ONLY way they can be successful is if we can show our strength as a community. After we win in Buenos Aires those who are within the community will have more insight and opportunity to effect change.
Consider this an invitation to support. If you have Twitter then you NEED to follow @FILA Official, however, we also need you to do some actual work to help pump up the size of FILA's Facebook Community. Here's what you do:
1. Head over to FILA Official on Facebook and push "Like"
2. In the upper right hand corner is "Invite Your Friends to Like This Page"
3. Push "Invite" until the box disappears, and then push "See All"
4. Open up the list to other communities
As of today these are the numbers of LIKES for comparable sports, subsidiary national bodies and other professional leagues.
As you can see, we are losing ... badly.
Not to fret, we've shown success in the past with last-minute social media campaigns. Before the first vote, where social media was also considered, FILA's Twitter numbers were driven from 3.5k to 15k in 24 hours.
Facebook LIKES might not be a needle-mover for every member of the IOC, but it is a documented and distributed metric they are allowed consider. To improve wrestling's chances we need to empower FILA in the simplest way possible -- by simply ‘liking' them. Why should we knowingly lose a battle that we know we can win?
Do your part and start clickin.'
To your questions ...
Q: Watched the Inside Russia on Flo and was shocked to see empty stands It looked like Vegas at the U.S. Open. Why can't Russia fill seats?
-- Tim R.
Foley: First of all ... wow. The Flo team has plenty to be proud of with these productions. They are creating a whole new industry and our sport is all-the-better as a result of their efforts. Bravo, guys.
Noticed this as well. Good eye. Maybe it was location? Krasnoyarsk ain't exactly a well-traveled summer location for many Ruskies.
One of the proposals to improve the marketability of international wrestling is to create a Grand Prix circuit with a focus on enormous cash prizes hosted in the hometowns of individual All-Stars. For example, the 2014 74-kilo Grand Prix would have a cash prize of $1 million and be held in Newark, N.J. Wrestlers from around the world would come to the event to compete for the money, and fans would fill the arena to see LOCAL hero Jordan Burroughs take home a big ol' check.
That many people and that type of prize money would attract sponsors who would be the ones responsible for the payment. In an effort to polish up the delivery of our product wrestling could make the finals into a separate event, with plenty of buildup for the match.
It might seem like a lot of effort, but if we don't try to make our sport something with appeal and a magnet for media attention, then it'll continue to be ignored.
Q: Having mostly followed high school and college wrestling over the years I am curious how the rest of the world conducts their competitions. Do they have dual meets and tournaments like the NCAA? And once wrestlers are at the senior level, how do they compete? I'm asking this because it seems to me with all the clubs in the U.S., why don't we have dual meets between them? Sunkist Kids vs. Nittany Lion Wrestling Club for example?
-- Ken S.
Foley: Freestyle wrestlers in foreign countries have various training methods. The Mongolians recently asked their government for the funding to establish wrestling teams by Aimag (states) that they would then wrestle-off against each other. In Senegal the wrestlers travel overseas. In China they have several live-style intrasquads and tend to make it to several regional tournaments a year.
Americans are traveling often, but as you said maybe not often enough. It can be financially difficult to travel all the time, and you might have the right idea about starting a dual meet tournament.
My only concern is that some teams might not be able to fill out rosters, and that the backups of some program would want to compete. In that case we might be able to create a second team (as in the case of Sunkist and NYAC). Like a Grand Prix, everything would be left to the marketing of the event, but more importantly I think a dual meet tournament might be the best way to get our guys in the competition mood, for cheap and on home soil.
I got money on Sunkist Kids.
Wrestling goes back to Ancient Greece ...
What the hell ...
Q: My question is regarding Kyle Dake and the ESPY Awards. I'm crushed that he did not win best male college athlete. Sure, the ESPYs are a popularity contest, and Johnny Football had an amazing year, but do you believe he should have earned that award this year? On another note, one flaw I find with the ESPYs is that highly televised college sports (e.g. basketball, football) seem to have better shots of winning awards than other sports (e.g. wrestling, baseball, tennis) due to the fact the voters stem from fans who have an easier time following their "team". If an unbiased committee was chosen to pick the winners, do you think Dake would have won? I'm only asking because Dake's win could have been a huge boost for wrestling, and we need any kind of attention/support we can get to help our cause for the 2020 Olympics.
-- Chris G.
Kyle Dake with Megan Palladino at the ESPYsFoley: Don't worry, the ESPYs are one of the year's least-watched award shows. Athletes aren't like celebrities in theater, movies and music, who need some sort of way to rank themselves against each other. Sports does the trick by entering everyone into direct competition and awarding trophies at the end of the season. Isn't it kind of redundant to bring them back and hand them a second or third award for the same honor.
ESPN realized the same issue with the ESPYs and early on sought out to diversify their presentations by creating cross-sport competition, like Best Male College Athlete. If the ESPYs were voted on by sportswriters -- a famously curmudgeon hateful bunch -- Kyle Dake would have earned the equivalent of a technical fall in votes over Johnny Manziel. As it is, the voting was left up to 12-year-olds and intoxicated sorority girls in fur jackets.
Winning the ESPY would have been a nice grab for wrestling's ongoing publicity campaign, but ultimately that will be decided by much larger factors. And in a strange way, the fact that Manziel won created such a backlash that it worked just the same, maybe even better than if Dake had won.
Q: Got any predictions for this week's Bellator card?
-- Donny C.
Foley: I think this is the opening of the season. It's best to take Askren and Chandler in the title fights, and Anthony Leone in the four-man tournament.
If you want help on the weekend's UFC fights, I'd put big money on Jake Ellenberger (+190) to beat Rory MacDonald. Wrestling is the greatest equalizer, so long as you have a gas tank.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
-- Tim J.
Update on Nevada Walker ...
That really is his name. He had more natural talent than any wrestler I've ever seen. Could have easily, and I'm being serious, easily been a multiple-time national champion. He had a hard home life and just didn't have the support system to focus on college.
Commodore Perry graduates about 50 kids in a class and during Nevada's time, I'd of taken the '97 team against anyone. He graduated in '98 and that had the most talented group of wrestlers in school history. There is another kid in his class that was even better but like Nevada and rest of that class didn't care as much as they should. Their pre-match meal consisted of snacks and a Marlboro Red or smoking a bowl. Sadly, wrestling is dead at the school. Hard to believe that in 15 years it could go from a top 10 team in country to five or six kids on the team. Just really sad and I don't know how to get the area to get kids out.