Foley's Friday Mailbag: September 13, 2013

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.

Wrestling just stole back its spot in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, and the sporting future of little wrestlers from N'Djamena is once again brightened by the glow of the Olympic rings.

But as the million-dollar consultants melt back into a life free from spandex-clad warriors and trolling masses, it's wrestling's new leadership who will dictate the sport's Olympic future. That leadership class will consist of everyone from FILA president Nenad Lalovic to the captain of the Polk High junior varsity team, and all of it will need to be focused on creating a new wrestling.

New ideas and fresh leadership in the post-Olympic fight can take any form. It might be the high school wrestling coach who wants a more modest competition outfit, or you could be the youth coach who challenges the idea that 10-year-old kids should ever cut an ounce of weight. It might even be the team captain who demands the end of the initiation of younger athletes.

Key to that change is the acceptance of women. As one IOC voter told me after the vote in Buenos Aires, "Without changing to 6-6-6 wrestling would never have had a chance."

You might not like to hear it, but the International Olympic Committee made it plainly obvious that without improved gender equity, and soon gender equality, wrestling has no chance of returning to the core sports. That might cause traditional fans some consternation, to think that women need half the spots in the Olympic Games.

Oh well, we wanted back in the Olympics and this is the cost of admission.

Women are the future of our sport, and not just in "taking" spots from men. You only have to look at Ronda Rousey, her impact on the UFC's PPV sales, and those vicious arm bars to realize that women are tough and women sell.

Embrace newness and support women's wrestling.

To your questions ...

Q: Can you talk about the effect the new IOC president will have on international wrestling, if any? What is the process for wrestling to be considered a core sport in the Olympics again? How important is it for wrestling to be a core sport in the Olympics? ESPN expanded coverage of the NCAA Championships since the news of wrestling in the Olympics (related or not), do you see other networks making wrestling a priority? How does wrestling carry this momentum from the vote and grow even more? Kind of loaded ... Sorry!!
-- Jake K.

Foley: There is nothing more endearing than a question sent from the jittery, drunken fingers of a former wrestler. Why apologize? Your inebriation in a world with Olympic wrestling is forgivable, especially with such exceptional grammar and sentence structure. I normally write this sober and can rarely find equal clarity.

You threw out a few questions so I'll go point-by-point.

Thomas Bach was elected as the new IOC president two days after wrestling was put back into the Olympic Games in 2020 and 2024. Bach has always been a very popular IOC member and was among the first presidential candidates to support the sport after its fateful removal by the IOC Executive Board. To clarify, his decision to support wrestling was about as controversial as the idea of supporting clean water in third-world countries.

The IOC president has immense powers to legislate how the games are operated, to include which sports receive which medals. As of now Bach's platform is "Unity through Diversity," which is to say that he wants more countries included and more sports. Like many other members of the IOC he's looking reduce the number of disciplines in some sports (swimming and track and field) in order to welcome new sports like squash). It's a good deal for wrestling, since there is some belief that the only way he would add squash into the Games would be by sliding wrestling into the core and leaving squash as a provisional.

Overall, he supports the idea that wrestling shouldn't be eliminated from the Games, and after the backlash that came from that move in 2013, it'll never again happen. However, the window for PR-savvy moves like adding wrestling to the core, is closing by the day. ESPN added their coverage because they planned to do so in 2012, but never got around to doing so, and adding the day after the decision was -- you guessed it -- PR-savvy.

Wrestling should be in the core, but for now, and likely the next four years it could be argued that the purgatory of being left out might help drive positive changes in the sport's presentation, rules and governance. The sport's momentum will be decided by the fans (as noted in the introduction) and by FILA president Nenad Lalovic. Should he decide to use his political capital to make necessary changes, there could be significant alterations made to several areas of the sport. Should he relax or get caught up fighting off the persistent attacks of former president Martinetti and those already displaced by his reform-based leadership, then the spring to the core will be slowed.

The core is the goal, but more important is that FILA and all the membership start to believe in the idea that there can be a new sport of wrestling that is much better than the old.

How could it be much worse?

Q: With the NFL season kicking off and everyone feeling their fantasy team is el número UNO, it got me thinking ... what about a fantasy wrestling league? We are looking for more innovative and creative ways to increase the following of our great sport, especially after this morning's crucial decision, and we need to think of the spectators. I am telling you this because I am sitting here watching intently the Packers-49ers game (of which I am a fan of neither squad) purely because Vernon Davis is on my team vs. my Green Bay defense. I'm in a tough spot. Why not start an NCAA fantasy wrestling league? Fantasy leagues are based on individual statistics and performance aren't they? It would seem our sport would be perfect.
-- Justin L.

Foley: I think you might also have been intoxicated. Verdad, mi amigo?

Fantasy wrestling exists! Be calm. As far as I know there is no current formula for a yearlong fantasy wrestling site, only those that are set up for the NCAA Championships.

This should have been accomplished a LONG time ago, but there is a major problem. The NCAA would eat a hind-quarter of a horse before they let some site run a fantasy league with their participation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't think of an established a fantasy league for NCAA football?

That written I know there is at least one guy out there with the keys to kiskstarting this idea and I'd love to see it up and running by November.

Just don't be shocked if it's not there in December.


Boston University wrestling ...

FILA wrestling's presentation to the IOC (Daniel Igali at 13:00) ...

Q: I am thrilled PSU and Iowa will meet in non-conference action; PSU has to run the gauntlet of Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State and Oklahoma State in dual action. It is a fitting challenge for the senior class that put the Lions on top. However, I am confused on one point: what is going on with National Duals this year? PSU verbally committed to participate after sitting out last year -- though they did add the caveat that they may bow out if the format didn't fit. We know what Cael thinks about the format. But isn't the Oklahoma State dual the same weekend as National Duals? Both the Lions and Cowboys are sitting out this year?!?!
-- Brad B.

Foley: Iowa, Penn State and Oklahoma State are all sitting out the National Duals this year. There are a variety of motivations for not scheduling the National Duals, but as you said that Nittany Lions are already wrestling a pretty tough schedule. Also, I'd guess that some of these coaches don't want to prop up the National Duals format in 2013-2014 if they are fighting to ensure it won't be part of the NCAA National Championship in 2016.

And you're correct that the Penn State seniors deserve to go out on this type of tough schedule. The fans should appreciate how much Brands and Cael put into making this happen. #TwitterWars

Q: What is the deal with 2015 NCAA site? They announcing the next several years as well?
-- Frank C.

Foley: Got some solid confirmation on the facts of the case. The bids are due Sept. 16 with three finalists announced on Oct. 30 (three finalists per site, per year). The final award will be announced on Dec. 11.

The variation of finalists and bid years doesn't mean that wrestling won't have an official semi-permanent location, only that there will be a variety of bid options available to the committee on NCAA Championships.

I've also heard that the NCAA has never received more bids than they have in this cycle. Some of that has to do with the profitability of the sport, and some with the recent press about the Olympic decision. Either way, it's great news for the sport.

Q: How does our celebration/commitment to folkstyle impede further success at world competition levels? If Brent Metcalf wrestled only in freestyle growing up, how much better would he be? Or does the grueling grind of folkstyle fuel the success that we in the U.S. do achieve internationally?
-- Mr. Juice

Foley: I don't know.

What I do know is that traditional wrestling shouldn't be sacrificed in preference of the international styles. Americans understand the rules of American wrestling and as we've seen with ESPN's recent commitment to the sport, they are willing to watch more and more on national television. Metcalf and others grew up wanting to be NCAA champions probably more than they wanted to be Olympic champions. The rules and style difference necessary to compete in each are so similar that they are effective cousins.

The Women's College Wrestling Association chose to make freestyle their rule set because there was no established women's-only style in America. That was smart. However, in countries like Senegal where women's folkstyle is a huge draw, they'd never consider adopting freestyle rules in the hopes of winning a few more medals.

Traditional wrestling is a the physical representation of a societies connection to it's values and history. The Olympics, while an important personal achievement, isn't worth the elimination of any traditional style.

I'll be giving a talk about this very topic next week at the FILA Scientific Congress. There are several ways in which traditional wrestling can help grow the Olympic styles without infringing on their important role within society, and I think FILA is uniquely positioned to enhance traditional styles around the world while also benefiting in terms of creating new national governing bodies and inking endorsement deals.

By Brad H.

On the subject of female wrestling, it is clear to me that the IOC was not impressed with raising the female medal count by fifty percent. They want more. You have often written in this column about a college starting a women's wrestling program and gaining a great deal of publicity for it. Sorry sir, but you think too small. Who would they wrestle? Men? NAIA teams? Clubs? Get real. If you really want to instill female grappling into the hearts of Americans you must go bigger. In my opinion there is only one clear path to achieve this goal quickly. Three words sir: Big Ten Conference!

Think about it. Which is the strongest wrestling conference in the USA? Who has the most money? Who has a television channel fully at their own disposal to promote such a unique idea? Who is growing and adding new members? Who covers a large demographic of the country, including many wrestling hot spots? Who has excellent academic schools?

Picture a high school girl in her own living room trying to convince her parents that she should be allowed to wrestle. What is her sales pitch? I can go to this one university which has female wrestling and wrestle ... ??? Or, I can get a FULL scholarship to one of the best academic universities in the country and wrestle on television!!!

I think you would need the Big Ten to get eight schools signed up. Create league matches and of course a conference tournament. This would probably have to suffice until some other schools would catch on and an NCAA tournament would be created at which point it would be a 'real' sport for all to recognize.

This is no small task of course but think of the amount of publicity THAT would create. Fully-funded female wrestling programs in the heart of the USA.

I don't know who the president of the Big Ten is but if I knew his wife, I would be in her ear.


Login or Register to post a comment

BoHunter0210 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I like the comment of the week. That would definitely be tough to pull off, but how great would that be.
missourimatman (1) about 4 and a half years ago
CBS Sports did have college fantasy football that was just like NFL fantasy football. It was actually more fun, because with so many teams there were tons of matchups to take into account.
ched64 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Ok...I understand that the feminization of America must correspond with the feminization of the world and without buying into all that hogwash, you stand no chance to have your sport in the Olympics. That said, I think this is absolute rubbish. Wrestling is absolutely a natural pasttime for boys whereas for girls? not so much. is it really a global goal to have as many girls want to wrestle as boys? really? why? what team is Bradley Manning going to try out for? wrestling will never be more than an absolutely far flung fringe sport for girls...guaranteed...maybe they should have let squash in ahead of wrestling. any sport so willing to give up a huge majority of its competitors so easily maybe isnt worth saving. Would baseball have agreed to play 5 inning games so that softball could get in?
TLS62PA (2) about 4 and a half years ago
So narrow minded... What's wrong with having women involvement, especially in their own division? It is untapped potential growth of the sport! More overall involvement draws larger overall ratings and, especially, interest.

I can't believe you would compare female wrestling with feminization. The ideals that have been instilled in us men from wrestling are the same ideals that will be instilled upon women. Hardwork, determination, self-sacrifice, humility, etc. I see greater female involvement as a gateway to a stronger female society.

I never gave female wrestling much thought before we had this whole issue with the IOC, but it has really broadened my horizon to what females can and will bring to our sport. It is our solution to the decrease in collegiate wrestling programs and great for our overall interest in the sport as a whole!
trfoley (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Well put.
trfoley (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I see that you're trolling, but I can't resist for no other reason than you're factually incorrect.

There have been female wrestlers since the beginning of mankind, they currently exist in cultures round the world, and they're even popularized in Greek mythology. Unfortunately the farer sex has been withheld from furthering their athletic ambitions by the narrow-minded men of the world. No worries though, the reign of these men is coming to a close as a more equitable leadership has emerged.

Enjoy obscurity.
ched64 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
billy baldwins article in HuffPo this week cited numbers of participants as 200-300k women wrestling worldwide vs 30 MILLION males....he was all in favor of gender equity so I have no reason to question his numbers though they werent guess is that the male number is correct while the female number is closer to the lower end of the really think that the two should be held as equal in the highest level of amatuer athletics?!? on what rationale would that hold true under any circumstance. in academics or any other non physical endeavor that wouldnt matter as they would be competing head to head but for the group that has 100-150 to 1 participation to be beholden to a mutually exclusive group for the very existence of their group on the world stage is unfair by any measure....and in case you were wondering, i am not worried about my obscurity any time soon
ched64 (2) about 4 and a half years ago
First off, I am in no way trolling...that would mean that I have a completely different viewpoint than most of the members on your site. While I may a bit more over the top than intended, I would strongly disagree with that. TLS62PA I would have no problem with women "having their own division" if it hadn't come at the expense of Men's freestyle giving up nearly half of their weightclasses. While you are talking about expanding interest in the sport. Why don't we try and do it by doubling down on the gender whose participation in and spectating of dwarfs that of the other not by willfully gutting the sport by giving up 40% of the opportunities by creating an Olympic division nearly out of whole cloth. Foley Do you not think there will be no trickle down effect to there only being 6 weightclasses in Olympic and in turn World Championship competition? If not, why did you think that the Olympics were that important in the first place? It was my understanding that you felt it would have an effect as far down as high school. As we have seen, a place in the Olympic program is extremely coveted. Do you really think it fair that a program with as light a participation rate as women's wrestling should be the countervailing factor as to whether men's wrestling should be included? It simply seems to me that this is another area of gender equity enforcement that has been so damaging to the sport in the past. And the only reason most women don't like wrestling is because of narrow minded men? Please. But keep up the good work, look forward to Mailbag every Friday.
TLS62PA (1) about 4 and a half years ago
The way you worded your response was trolling. Calling it part of the feminization of the world and even bring up the name of the traitor Bradley Manning. I see Nedrone's response as a more rational dissenting opinion that backs up their issues. This response you have here is more respectful and rational, and I respect that.

At the same time, both bring up the lack of interest in women's wrestling. Both arguments aren't backed up with concrete participation numbers, numbers which I don't have either. However, only very small efforts have been made to appeal to this demographic. With more support, I can see it flourish. Not to the extent of, say, basketball or volleyball, but really have its own strong niche.

I understand Nedrone's issue of watering down men's competition to increase female opportunity. I was not thrilled with this either. But I'm seeing it as part of the big picture. We're looking at untapped support from large female populations that can really bring more interest into the support that will broaden the horizon of wrestling in general. More opportunities on television and other media.
ched64 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I will withdraw the Bradley Manning had no place...that said, if you think the IOC's goal was to "help wrestling" I have to disagree. The goal is first and foremost making sure women have the same number of openings as men regardless of the participation rates. That is my point. If you want to build interest in women's wrestling, great. But that should be a prerequisite to garnering an Olympic platform not the other way around where you establish an Olympic venue and then back and fill. Especially if it comes at the expense of men's wrestling that has done a great job of building their base even in the face of Title IX here in the States. Would any CEO in hopes of diversifying his product mix cut 40% from his front line product to introduce one for which there is very little research to show that it stands any chance whatsoever of making up let alone surpassing that 40% cut? You are rationalizing why women's wrestling is good as an added positive for the sport. Sounds good but make no mistake that there is a cost that will be borne just as there is/was with Title IX. And the IOC doesn't care one liok as long as it fits their ideology.
Nedrone (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Dear Foley and TLS62PA - I read with great interest your predictable responses to Ched64. It's a sad day when any dissenting opinion is automatically dismissed with charges of "narrow mindedness". If people suggest dropping Greco their is no outcry from most people, but if someone suggests that Women's wrestling vastly smaller participant level might not necessitate the same amount of Olympic slots that men have, they are automatically assumed to be a woman hating neandrathal. Lighten up Frances! There is no reason to get your singlet in a wad because someone disagreed with you on a forum where the purpose is to give differing opinions. How far are you going to take the gender equality issue. It is a very slippery slope. Synchronized Swimming had 104 athletes compete in the London Games. They do not offer Men's competition. Should this number be reduced to 52 if I can go out and find 52 guys that could become "Olympians" by choreagraphing a routine and winning the Olympic Trials? I do not have a problem with Woman wrestling. I have a problem with the notion that we have to water down men's wrestling to build it up!
CoachPrebes (1) about 4 and a half years ago
In my humble opinion, if the USA got rid of folkstyle completely and focused solely on the Olympic styles I feel our country would do so much better in both styles! I think the women have it right- wrestling freestyle in college is the way for them to be successful at the higher international levels. I do feel Brent Metcalf would be further along in his freestyle career if he focused on freestyle from day one. I think this idea is extremely important for the US to rise and compete with the world's best freestyle and Greco Roman countries. While much of what we learn in folkstyle can carry over to freestyle and Greco, there is a big learning curve to be truly successful at the Senior level on a world stage. I would love to have my high school kids train Greco...and...freestyle year round. The next generation of US World and Olympic team members would be far better prepared than what we have now. Folkstyle is our country's wrestling identity, whereas freestyle and Greco is the identity of the rest of the world.
jammen (1) about 4 and a half years ago
You are foolish to think that promoting Women's wrestling will somehow enhance the stature of Men's wrestling.

The IOC does not care about wrestling at all. They do care about is $. They would gladly scrap Men's wrestling and just have Women's. You may have noticed that each year the tv coverage of Women's gymnastics and beach volleyball grows ever longer.
gdj3218 (1) about 4 and a half years ago
I would much rather have 9 Mens and 9 Women's Freestyle weight classes rather than the current 6/6/6 format. No offense to our Greco Brethren, but very few wrestlers grow up choosing those styles. Plus, with recent discussion on how confusing it is, 1 Olympic Style reduces the need to explain the difference. Adapt or die, right?
GaCoach (1) about 4 and a half years ago
Fantasy Wrestling is alive and well! I participated in it the past few years on As Foley said, they are quite informal and it takes an enormous amount of work on the league administrator to run things, but it is well worth it!