Foley's Friday Mailbag: August 30, 2013
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @trfoley
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.
Do you want to read a past mailbag? Access archives.
There are nine days until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes its decision at their 125th Session in Buenos Aires, and the odds are good that wrestling will be back in the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024.
And yet how we arrive back in the Olympics, and for how long, will help influence the direction of the sport.
The first vote of the IOC session will be whether or not to adopt the IOC Executive Board's recommendation of 25 core sports. You'll remember that the number 25 was meant to help manage the number of Olympic athletes for future bids (10,500), which is an important consideration for future bid cities. The initiative is a tent post of Jacques Rogge's presidency and important to his legacy.
Despite the importance to Rogge, that first vote might very well go bonkers. The IOC is a big body of well-intentioned, very intelligent bureaucrats filled with a variety of opinions. Yes, a small committee decided to cut wrestling, but it's been the larger body that has been made to pay for that decision. Nobody likes being picked on, and the IOC General Assembly has been awash in embarrassment for six months. This means that when the vote on 25 core sports is called to the floor, you can be almost assured that at least one member -- likely from a wrestling-nation -- will stand to make a motion that the recommendation be amended to either include wrestling, or simply kill the whole damn thing.
Were that type of motion to pass, wrestling would be back as a core Olympic sport. That would be a comfortable spot for FILA and the wrestling community -- rather than undergoing a protracted eight-year battle to climb from "provisional" to "core" wrestling could focus on the type of gradual growth necessary to become a more relevant international sport. It would also save wasting valuable human capital on appealing for the attention and adoration of the IOC.
It's an appealing scenario, but also an unlikely one. So if the votes go down as expected and wrestling is added as a provisional sport, what then?
FILA and the rest of the wrestling community will need to introduce a new round of improvements in the hopes of appeasing the new IOC President and having him re-institute wrestling as a core sport. The next level of changes will be the more important ones to consider and will take a sustained interest in the sport, and powerful leadership at FILA and the national federation level.
Nenad LalovicDuring yesterday's Google Hangout, FILA President Nenad Lalovic said that his top priority was to professionalize FILA, modernize its governance and organize its marketing platform in a manner similar to FIBA and FIFA. That means in-house media operations, events, and several other departments will all be formed in the hopes of creating a better product, more revenue, and thus become an attractive addition to the Olympic family.
That won't be easy conversation to have with the existing members of the FILA Bureau and membership. Though far from the totally corrupt body being posited by some, they are an engrained institution use to a modus operandi free of scrutiny and outside influence. For readers and wrestling fans who are utterly discontent with the organization, there might be no reparation achievable that could temper their distaste with what has transpired the past 15 years. But there is hope for the organization.
In addition to Lalovic's leadership, a third of the FILA Bureau will be up for re-election in September of 2014, which means they'll be asked by the membership how they plan to help modernize the sport, bring in profits, and otherwise create a more professional organization in-line with what Lalovic has outlined. There will be some turnover, and with the carrot of being a core sport dangling in front of them, and with change as the new popular method of leadership, it should be a reinvigorated body.
Change is gradual and painful. The old ways of doing business -- whether it's gender inequality or bureau gluttony -- can be eliminated by progressive thought, vigilance and votes. It's our job as wrestlers, coaches, fans and media to dream up new ideas, be daring in our presentation and help preserve our sport with bottom-up professionalism and inspiration.
To your questions ...
Q: FILA still has a long way to go to market this awesome product. I found your link to the Sasaki vs. Akkoyun match. It was fantastic. I then forwarded the link and found it's now a dead link. I then searched Google for "Sasaki vs Akkoyun" and I can't find the video. If FILA isn't highlighting one of the most existing matches of the World Championships, we've got a big problem!
-- Mark H.
Foley: There are too many databases right now. If you go into Dartfish and search by name and bout number you should be able to re-establish the connection. If not, send me a note and I'll ask when they will have the matches stored onto the new database.
Interesting note on the match: The Turkish coaches, of which there were no fewer than 430, were rushing and screaming from so many angles that I was legitimately concerned there was going to be some sort of physical altercation. The guys on camera were bad enough, but the club-level coaches behind the camera were bouncing about and throwing stuff in such a hissy that a few of the referees on the sidelines were trying to restrain them.
Can you imagine the awfulness of having to stream onto the mat and start a fight? We'd be watching it on Deadspin and ESPN for a month, and we'd be at serious risk of losing the bid.
Given the future of wrestling and getting more girls to participate in the sport ... I thought you might find the attached article interesting.
-- Chris A.
Foley: I don't know much about the legalese of what is going on, but it seems to me that the court sent it back to the PIAA to come up with better guidelines. If they do that, you'll see the men kicked from the women's teams. However, in compliance with Title IX the women on the men's teams will be allowed to continue playing based on the ruling that they are the "under-represented sex."
As a side note, I think it's ridiculous for high school kids to show up to a field hockey match and ridicule girls for not competing well with the boys. Teenagers can be losers, and I'd like slap these pimply-faced brats, but I'm not sure we should have judges trying to prevent this behavior.
Q: Did you see where Lalovic that they were going to work with TV on changing "wrestlers kits?" I bet you are excited!
Why haven't I received more emails from someone trying to make a buck from a new design? I don't need flames, or animated characters jumping through my chest. I just want the actual clothing design that reduces the groin bulge, can be marketed outside of the wrestling room (Think: 42-year-old gym rat in Tennessee wearing Hawkeye wrestling gear), and meets all safety concerns.
I promise whoever designs this, or can find someone to design it, that I will work to get it onto several high school and college mats. This is a million-dollar industry with no current investment.
Q: Your thoughts on Tour ACW?
-- Jason R.
Foley: Looking forward to the Oct. 20 event. Hoping that there is a big turnout and that Teague's push to create a way for post-collegiate athletes to compete will result in an ongoing commitment to the sport. Coach Moore is a hard worker and I'm pretty optimistic that there will be some media on hand to watch the event and that we'll see plenty of offensive wrestling.
Q: Will we ever see a women's NCAA wrestling tournament and how many women's wrestling teams are there or do some women have to compete on the men's teams?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: I'm hopeful, but it won't be for several more years. Wrestling needs to take the lead. I've seen the response to women's wrestling and it's incredible. If men's wrestling wants to exist and prosper, they'll need to recruit more women.
Still the politics and troubles of adding a women's program to the Division I level make an NCAA tournament an unlikely event to occur in the near future. The potential energy is there, when presented the option FANS LOVE WOMEN'S WRESTLING, but I'm suspect that we have the collective desire to take these women's programs from the NAIA leverage a program to become the first Division I program.
"Wrestlers in the offseason" Ha!
Fresno State president Dr. Joseph Castro was recently asked the possibility of wrestling returning as a varsity sport. His response.
Who ya got, Ben Askren or Quentin Wright?
Q: Do you think club wrestling on college campuses has helped to maintain or grow interest in the sport? Schools without programs absorb former wrestlers and there are few opportunities to maintain culture & interest.
Foley: That might be a logical next step for Tour ACW or any other organization looking to make some scratch from guys looking to have a fun weekend of wrestling. The club team level isn't bad (I think Central Florida has a nice program), but maybe growing at that level will help the sport in America.
I'm still the takedown-only guy. Having visited quite a few countries with powerful wrestling traditions, the key to success is the simplicity of the takedown-only style and how that allows for higher entertainment value.
Since there has yet to be one of these tournaments, I'm thinking of starting my own out in Chicago. Get some beers for the fans, some music and meet in the park for a family-friendly carnival atmosphere with some takedown wrestling. If you want MORE wrestlers than the sport needs to be fun and accessible, which means simple rules and focusing on entertainment value.
Jon Jay Chavez claimed a bronze at the Cadet WorldsQ: Quite a statement by the wrestlers from California at the Cadet World Championships. Of the three medalists from the boys side two were from California. Aaron Pico won gold and Cade Olivas, a rising freshman, earned a bronze. John Jay Chavez, a transplanted wrestler from Cali (now Idaho) also had a bronze. The Greco team had half of the wrestlers from Utah. I am guessing one Justin Ruiz could be responsible, but that is just a guess.
On the girls side half of the wrestlers were from California and two of the three medalists. The other was from Hawaii. Why are all of these wrestlers from the West? Is this a trend or an aberration?
-- Dave A.
Foley: Ivan Ivanov is in Idaho and I think he's a big part of the success ... Justin Ruiz as well.
California and Hawaii were some of the first states to adopt women's wrestling and are seeing that progressive investment pay off on the world stage. Girls in Virginia don't have the same opportunities to roll so therefore you see fewer on the team.
If you want you can build that theory out and apply it to the world of women's wrestling. Japan and Ukraine invested in women early and those programs led to early Olympic success. It's not one-to-one, but with more investment in creating opportunities, there is an increased likelihood of positive results years later.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK! (MUST READ)
Let's face it. A lot of wrestling fans are luddites. They don't exactly embrace technology. The Internet has gained acceptance among them, and they feel pretty good about their ability to email their grandchildren. But, don't even bring up Snapchat. They can't embrace such an ephemeral form of technology. It takes them more than a few seconds to focus on a pic. By the time they're all settled in and ready, it's gone.
But, Twitter. You've advised them to sign on, and, being an old fart and a loyal reader, I gingerly approached the Internet one day, and hesitantly came up with a profile name.
After a few aborted attempts to figure the danged thang out, I started following a few folks. First, I followed you, Mr. Foley. Thanks for the tweets from overseas and the input on how we can save wrestling. Yes. Singlets are destroying our sport. Then I started following Flowrestling. I actually used them to figure out what was happening at the World Team Trials in June. To Flowrestling, let me say: Good job, dudes!
(Handy etiquette tip: Everyone at Flowrestling should be addressed as "dude.")
And now here I am a few months in. I'm following just about every wrestler you can shake a stick at, and I can tell you, I've learned a lot about these kids. They like to eat. They like video games. And, for some reason they think "You're Next" seems like a good idea for a movie. But, for your readers who may still be holding back, waiting to see if Twitter is really going to take off, I would like to offer a service.
What follows is my first ever 'Mid-Year Wrestler's Twitter Overview.' I've chosen some of the more popular tweeters and for each I provide a brief synopsis of their tweet-style and an over-all grade. Use this guide to decide whose FOLLOW button you should click, and whose you should avoid like those awful MRSA ads in WIN Magazine.