Wrestling has long been intrigued by the popularity and profitability of MMA. There have been attempts to make weigh-ins more dramatic and hype the clash of likely opponents. Often these promotional stunts barely increase the attendance, or large-scale media acceptance of wrestling events. More often it's an oddity that distracts.
The simple truth is that wrestling is a sport, not a promotional spectacle. International sport can make money, but there are certain restrictions that must always be in place to ensure fair play and equity. Often those don't mesh with pre-fight brawls in casino hotel lobbies.
To your questions ...
Q: How do you think Matt Lindland does as the USA Greco-Roman coach?
-- Dan A.
Foley: There was a nice article on Coach Lindland and where he sees his value as a coach. There is some appeal in having an athlete who has been exposed to various forms of martial arts while still having been successful in what they coach.
Greco-Roman success won't be immediate. The international community loves the sport and while we have some of the better athletes, we are deficient in training and competition schedules. These guys are good because they wrestle more matches against top competition.
Though it would be great to see some of the top freestylers migrate to Greco-Roman, that change will need to occur well before they enter their 20s. The competition has only practiced this one style their whole life, and our team (who is better than most give them credit) would launch for five many of the names being floated as possible Greco-Roman converts.
Q: Did you see the article on the rise of women's wrestling? That's good press for the sport.
-- Susan A.
Foley: The article does a great job of reminding wrestling fans how far removed most media consumers are from understanding the growth of our sport.
Marina Doi won a Junior World bronze (Photo/T.R. Foley)Female wrestling is incredible. Whether it's Marina Doi, who won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships, or Helen Maroulis whose become the face of the sport in the USA, women's wrestling is experiencing more success and popularity in America. However that popularity isn't translating into positive PR for the sport.
Women deserve a shot, but to get to the next level the sport needs advocates motivated by their love for wrestling to take the forefront. We need ambassadors in every city and every state. We need individuals who see that the sport of wrestling (not just men's) can benefit from having gender equity -- that these women don't just have a value as mat stars, but are competent, brilliant and courageous competitors.
If you don't like women's wrestling, that's your choice, but if your put down the prejudice and head over to FILA-Wrestling.com today at noon ET, I think you'll find that the sport can be every bit as exciting and complex as the men's side.
Link: Kiki Kelley: The only woman to go in Iran's wrestling arena
Q: Could you please make mention of these young men in your mailbag who died this past weekend in Epworth, Iowa following a parade where they participated on the high school wrestling float. One of the young wrestlers killed, Mitchell Kluesner, was the nephew of my co-worker.
Three of the four young men were on the Western Dubuque High School wrestling team and all four were good kids in school and the community. I am sure the wrestling community would like to hold these families in their thoughts and prayers as they mourn the loss of their sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, and cousins.
-- Tom G.
Foley: Thank you for taking the time to eulogize these young men. Bringing their passing to the attention of the entire wrestling community is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the loss of these families and grow appreciation for how fortunate we are to be healthy and happy.
Like many in the wrestling community, I saw this story posted on Facebook and my heart was crushed in thinking of the loss of these parents and the surrounding community. Life is filled with the promise of tomorrow and a better outcome, but young life has more chances built in and a story yet to be written. To lose these young men on the precipice of life that may include first loves, children and self-exploration seems cruel. It is cruel.
We are taught to love our neighbors and for wrestlers that extends to everyone who has shared in the turmoil. To a person, the tight knit wrestling community might not have individually known these young men, but their struggle on their mats and hopes for a bright future was a common connection by which all wrestlers can relate. Their early deaths are a reminder of the fragility of life and how much we should respect each day.
I will keep these boys and their families in my thoughts. I also trust that our entire community will do the same. Thank you again for writing and I wish the best to their family and everyone at Western Dubuque High School during this time of need.
Comment of the Week
By Mark B.
I wanted to commend you for your stance on youth wrestling. I have a 3-year-old son and I am torn on getting him involved in wrestling ... largely because of the broken system of youth wrestling that is in place. Too much, too early. I do not see much middle ground. This pains me because I love wrestling and am an avid fan. I wrestled though college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. It put me in the company of great men who guided me through my youth. It has molded me to be the father and husband I am today. That being said I do not want my son to be involved in the current youth wrestling culture. In my opinion the cost now outweighs the benefits.
I am 40 and have been involved with wrestling since I was a 10. I have seen my share of overzealous and outright crazy fathers. I have countless horror stories of kids whose fathers wrestled them non-stop. Their lives revolved around wrestling. They lived in a wrestling prison. Three tournaments a weekend, cutting weight, traveling all over the country and traveling hours just to attend a certain club. I have yet to see this end well for the young men. Fathers sacrificed their sons' youth, personal development and innocence to satisfy their egos and/or to fulfill a void in accomplish from their own wrestling careers. All for accolades and trophies that will mean very little when they reach adulthood. In large most of the kids that I know that wrestled non-stop as kids are low functioning adults. Crime, and substance abuse stain many of their lives. They struggle through adulthood. Their identity wrapped up in an activity that carries very little value in the adult world. It's tragic. How different would their lives turned out if they had more balance?
The way things are now is insane and it needs to stop. Wrestling should be a tool that teaches kids skills and tools that will help them be successful in the important aspects of life. An extracurricular activity. Not the center of a kid's universe. If my kid wrestles I will start my own club and do things my way. Low pressure, little competition, based in skill and personal development. He might not end up being a championship wrestler but he will end up being a championship human being.