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Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 21, 2019

Earlier this week Minnesota heavyweight wrestler and NCAA Division I All-American Gable Steveson was arrested alongside teammate Dylan Martinez on suspicion of sexual assault.

The wrestlers were released 36 hours later after police were unwilling or unable to file charges against the pair. The investigation is still underway, and charges could be posted at any time, but as of Thursday night the only action taken is that the University of Minnesota has placed the wrestlers on a mandatory suspension from team activities.

Nobody in the wrestling community enjoys hearing about the arrest of our top athletes. Our sport receives such little attention, that when it's wasted on the negative some in the community wish to not discuss it or have outlets like InterMat carry the facts. That repulsion to the facts were on display this week.

While I can understand wanting a moderated response (innocent until proven guilty), there is no precedent for burying news just because fans don't want to hear it. In fact, the opposite is true. If self-censorship was more common among media outlets (as is now being promoted on message boards and comment threads) then it only harms the fans, since the discretion moves from one of newsworthiness to one of a fan's feelings.

The accusations against Steveson and Martinez are serious and should they be found guilty of wrongdoing the punishment will be severe. Sexual assault is a criminal offense, but it's also an offense that can fall under EEOC for dismissal from school, and one that can trigger a SafeSport violation. The latter two may not need a criminal outcome, much like civil court doesn't depend on a criminal verdict.

At this point, there is no way for me (or you) to know what happened, but there is room to discuss how we as a community should approach this topic in the future. While the news coverage is interesting, it pales to some of the more reprehensible attitudes. Some members of our community mismanaged this discussion by making victim accusations rather than showing compassion and utilizing patience.

The internet often finds a way to promote its platform's most controversial opinions. Just look at the comments on articles from this column over the last 18 months -- there is no topic boring enough to escape the ever-expanding bilge of hate-filled trolls. Like many of you, I saw the article and thought of how incredibly awful for this young woman -- someone's daughter, sister, best friend, coworker -- to be attacked by two men. To have a turbulent mixture of sadness, anger, and doubt swirling in her head is difficult to fully grasp. To maybe have had an innocence forever taken from her. Sexual assault -- rape -- isn't just a physical assault, it's a crime that can injure the mind and soul forever.

But there were prominent wrestlers and former wrestlers who looked past those feelings and immediately found comfort in making efforts to victim shame. That this was another example of the non-existent trend of "false reporting" -- women who inaccurately describe sexual encounters in order to slander a man's name.

While false reports have happened the numbers are dwarfed by real assaults -- women who haven't suffered just reputational damage but rape. Individuals arguing that this case is false based on the premise they like the wrestler and they've "heard it happens nowadays" doesn't make them the member of some enlightened elite, it convicts them of uncurable stupidity and moral failure.

According to RAINN, more than 320,000 Americans older than 12 years old were victims of sexual assault or rape last year alone. Seems that even the trolliest troll would admit that half a million women aren't faking their stories of sexual assault.

The cruelty necessary to question the honesty of a victim is incompatible with the values of any community, large or small. When members of the wrestling community chime in with ignorant statements they are seeking attention because they need validation. They need to be seen because they need to feel loved or hated to feel validated; to be exalted by praise or motivated by anger to have a purpose.

So for these athletes and keyboard jockeys finding humor in this women's pain, you're a disgrace. But for the fans out there seeing it, do us all a favor and take away the thing that gives them power: ignore them in earnest. Discard their self-serving opinions and myopic world view in favor of something more productive, creative, kind, and loving. We have a wrestling community filled with beautiful, trustworthy and sincere people. Find them. Promote them. It'll make for a much better world, and sport.

To your questions …

Q: If Gable Steveson requests a special wrestle-off for the U23 team, should it be granted to him?
-- @CurtJones87


Foley: I'm not sure what the procedure would be with USA Wrestling, but there is nothing legally (that I'm aware of) that would limit his participation in those types of events. Now, were it an NCAA-sanctioned event he would need to be in good standing with his team, which as of today he isn't as he is still suspended.

However, if charges are filed there is likely some guideline in place that would limit him from competition. Also, there is SafeSport which would almost certainly come into play, though I can't speak to how that policy is enforced and what would trigger its implementation (charges vs. conviction).

Q: Now that Bo Nickal requested a special wrestle-off for the U23 team, do you think any of the other eligible wrestlers will? I believe Daton Fix, Yianni Diakomihalis, Ryan Deakin and Gable Steveson are all eligible.
-- Mike C.


Foley: As of now three of the eligible nine wrestlers who lost in Final X have requested a wrestle-off: Bo Nickal, Cohlton Schultz, and Brady Koontz. I wouldn't suspect that Fix will look to wrestle in both tournaments. Yianni's team is currently attempting to litigate him onto the senior team, but could go ahead and schedule the wrestle-off in case they aren't granted what they are seeking. Would be a shame to not see him compete at U23 because of the situation that was created.

Imagine Deakin will submit but don't know for sure!

Daton Fix scored a late takedown on Thomas Gilman at Final X: Lincoln (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Q: What did you think of the takedown call awarded to Daton Fix against Thomas Gilman late in their third match? Seemed really close, but I personally didn't think it was a takedown.
-- Mike C.


Foley: After Final X Rutgers I chose to watch a comedy show rather than Final X, so I didn't have the benefit of seeing the scramble live. That means I've probably been manipulated a bit. Still, my take is that it's a pretty straightforward takedown. Gilman switched legs at the end of the scramble and went double under on the left leg, but was flat to the mat. The international rules and interpretation are not very compassionate when control is established with one wrestler in total par-terre position.

The leg was also underneath the body. Had Gilman kept his hips off the mat and the leg over his head, or elevated, he could maybe have avoided the points. But I think that if you're flat on the mat and your opponent is parallel with arms locked around you it's a takedown.

Q: With Takuto Otoguro and Kaori Icho losing at the Meiji Cup last week, do you think there is a real chance we won't see one or both at the Tokyo Olympics? Icho would be going for her fifth Olympic title in her home country. Would be stunning if she didn't make the team.
-- Mike C.


Foley: Kaori Icho is 35 years old and has been hammering the mats since she was 5 years old. That's a lot of know-how, but also a lot of damage to the body. She has slowed significantly the past three years. She isn't protecting her legs as well as she was in Rio and everything from her ankles to her back looks stiff as wood.

While I'm a card-carrying member of her fan club, I think that Risako Kawai (a fellow Olympic champion) has more steam at the moment.

As for Otoguro, he too is facing an accomplished opponent in Rio 2106 silver medalist Rei Higuchi. Otoguro has a number of wins over Higuchi, but looked a step slower in their finals match, often waiting until Higuchi was deep on an attack to launch a counter scoring move. Wasn't pretty, and when you add in his sock pull and suspect lungs maybe Japan would benefit from Higuchi in Tokyo.

Nice thing is that this is all settled on July 6 and we get to watch!

Q: This makes nine straight world teams for Jordan Burroughs, I think the record is 14 straight by Bruce Baumgartner (1983-1996) having medaled in all but '91. Any idea where JB stacks in consecutive or total world teams made?
-- Frank C.


Foley: Way, way up there. Only modern comparison would come on the women's side with Adeline making her eighth world team. As for a historical reference I don't have the pull for that at the moment, but I think that someone in the comments can add their best guesses.

I mean John Smith made six and won six. Yikes.

Spencer Lee defeated Jack Mueller to claim his second straight NCAA title (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)

Q: Why didn't Spencer Lee compete for the World Team? Is he injured? A healthy Lee might have beaten out Fix for that spot.
-- Andy S.


Foley: Unclear and Iowa isn't talking at the moment. It's been a bit since Spencer has competed in freestyle. Maybe he's deferred to Gilman? Maybe he's not that good at freestyle anymore?! (just kidding). Either way, if he's planning on making a run at the team in 2020 I'm not sure that sitting out the entire quad was the right call.

Q: Now that Aaron Pico has taken three losses in seven MMA fights, do you think it could alter his original plans? Do you see him making a run for the 2020 Olympic Team at 65 kilograms? Obviously, he is 6-0 against Zain, but would he have enough time to get back into form? Is he eligible to compete for Mexico?
-- Mike C.


Foley: Last I've heard he's eligible in terms of transfer, but unclear if he's activated that transfer or what he wants to do in order to compete. There is likely no way he can be on the team for this year's World Championships, since the transfer would have needed to be done last December. He could still enter and qualify from the continental championships or the last chance qualifier.

I'd love to see Pico back on the mats!

Q: What wine pairs best with watching international tournaments at 4 a.m.? I've got a nice semi-dry Riesling from 2014 I may break out for the Medved.
-- @jagger712


Foley: If you like a dry Riesling I think you'll enjoy a Gruner. Typically a little cheaper, drier, and frankly better. But are you trying to drink wine at 4 a.m.? What about an Irish coffee? Trick is to make your own whip cream for the mug and use Jameson. I think I'd start there and move into a 7 a.m. Bloody Maria (tequila) before moving to a more sustainable beer choice -- like Guinness.

I'm genuinely interested in hearing what you choose. Also, this reminds me that there will be A LOT of tired fans in September, with the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan.

Comments

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UsedToBe103 (1) about 2 months ago
Adeline's World Team berths were not all consecutive because she wasn't on the 2017 team.
AP5858ap (4) about 2 months ago
Foley - if a story is broken we all hear about it. You are correct.. none of us know the circumstances and we have to be careful. I haven't read about the incident other than what I saw on your site the other day. I haven't yet read quotes from other people that you referenced above.

Whether it be well known accomplished wrestlers or someone down the street anywhere in America, few of us justify physical agression toward women. Short of facts, these two young men should receive absolute benefit of the doubt until they are charged and prosecuted. Your emotions centered heavily toward the young woman. False accusations of sexual rape or assault have ruined many young men. There are plenty of organizationally sponsored statistics on that side you could have sited as well.

Whether you are a supreme court justice nominee, or a college kid, a false charge can ruin lives. I have no opinion on this specific incident. I have no tolerance when it comes to abusing women. Too often there are assaults on women. And too often men are falsely accused of rap and women that's why we wait.
poliseo (3) about 2 months ago
Zero facts are known about the Steveson situation (other than he was detained and not arrested). Zero. Innocent until proven guilty. Period. That should have been your statement. Instead, you went on a left-leaning rant about the victim. What victim? Innocent until proven guilty! I'll be you were right there cheering on the accusers in the Kavanaugh hearings without a shred of credible evidence. Give me a break.
tapout125 (1) about 2 months ago
Foley, hope she sees this bro. Bless up.
LowSingleOTW (3) about 2 months ago
Foley... You're and educated man... I mean you went to "VIRGINIA" for Christ Sake... While assault and aggression towards anyone is "deplorable" there is something called DUE PROCESS... You're inability to mention or highlight our rights as American citizens in disappointing... I hope that the truth comes out and if charged and proven guilty then throw the book at them... However, until that takes place your drawing conclusions on limited information and facts which at the least is irresponsible... You have an obligation and a responsibility with MAIL BAG to be transparent and you have yet to really understand what leadership role you have in this role...

Remember the Duke Lacrosse Team were Sons, Brothers, Nephews and Grandsons of many people...Their lives were forever changed with the jumping to conclusions media and mob mentality of those seeking their own outcome with out "DUE PROCCESS" ...

You're becoming more and more disappointing with each typed word that comes from your computer...
grapplefan (1) about 2 months ago
Good Gruner may be as good, but poor Gruner is far worse and less reliable. For dryer Reisling, look for a Kabinett from the Saar with lots of minerality with that touch of honey and steel. As usual, Foley is as misguided here as he is about new rules and singlets. Thanks for putting some good perspective on the Steveson news though.
GMen (3) about 2 months ago
Wait a minute, this is too good. Intermat is going to try to be an objective voice of reason on the subject of censorship? Half the people I have met on this site have had posts deleted at some point or another, merely because they disagreed with the hard-line feminist narrative. Too funny
storm1234 (3) about 2 months ago
Foley you need to leave Intermat and get a job with CNN. With the way you turn 320,000 into a half a million just like that you clearly have a bigger future in fake news and misreported stories.
ResiliteMarine (3) about 2 months ago
Foley: After Final X Rutgers I chose to watch a comedy show rather than Final X.....
And you're a Wrestling writer, paid to write about wrestling???
Brazil06 (3) about 2 months ago
Foley - I usually enjoy your editorials because you offer fresh perspectives on the sport, cover areas that are outside of mainstream US folk style wrestling , and have been a strong advocate for the progress of women’s wrestling.

This weeks mailbag, simply put, was bad form on your part.

1) your comments about not seeing final x are an embarrassment, not just because in your role for this website you didn’t watch it, but also because you used your platform to take an almost spiteful and condescending tone while doing so.

2) your perspective on the Minnesota wrestlers is just over the line. Your emotional drive for equality has blinded you from your own bias. You are lecturing and accusing people To not victim shame, all while committing the same act of assumption on the other spectrum that these boys are guilty. In this article , You are just as bad as the spinsters in media you hate. Left right liberal conservative , it doesn’t matter. Hopefully you can reflect and learn from this, and also better understand how people with opposite political and social viewpoints fall into the same trap of creating a subjective narrative based on emotions. I’m a liberal . I know that the majority of assault cases are legit. And I feel for the victims . But I Also know that false accusations happen too , even though it is not the majority . And when that happens , I feel for those victims that have been wrongly accused. Due process is there for a reason. How about let’s wait till the facts come out and agree that it’s more likely that wrongdoing was done , but not guaranteed.

And for all those out there drooling at the concept of liberal criticizing a liberal, try doing the same on your own part.
ConnorsDad (1) about 2 months ago
Do you know for sure the victim was a woman?
kddemaree (2) about 2 months ago
CononrsDad: The released portion of the 911 transcript stated the caller says the alleged victim was a female. I don’t always agree with Foley’s crap, but do a little research before you make accusations.
mcaroten (3) about 2 months ago
Well said Foley. While the wrestlers are innocent until proven guilty, I applaud your stance to stand by the victim first. We don't know who is responsible yet, but we (and I mean men), better start believing women about these issues. The notion of rampant false accusations "ruining" young men is a bunch of crap when 19% of women are raped and 44% of women experience sexual violence during their lifetime (see link below for govt stats on this). I believe the victim and I hope due process will find and punish who is responsible...National and world titles don't exonerate anyone, even if many of the above posters seem to think so. ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw2018/info_flyers/fact_sheets/2018NCVRW_SexualViolence_508_QC.pdf
silvermedal (4) about 2 months ago
Foley isn't accusing Steveson of anything. He's pointing out that those who publicly defended the wrestlers and assumed the woman was lying should be more thoughtful. Personally, when I saw this story I said nothing because I wanted to wait and see how it played out. Since no one has been charged, we can assume there are issues with the accusation. But that doesn't mean the offense didn't take place.
pjw134lbsAA (1) about 2 months ago
"While false reports have happened the numbers are dwarfed by real assaults -- women who haven't suffered just reputational damage but rape". Really?
And most of the prisoners on Death Row are probably guilty, right? Guess those "Innocence Project" activists are just a bunch of troublemakers. Due Process...learn it, respect it, defend it.
And, oh yeah, if these guys are guilty then throw the book at them.
helppointhuh (1) about 2 months ago
its good point of fitness
mmac (1) about 2 months ago
Why the f**k does anyone bring liberal or con into the Gable debate???
No where does anyone say Gable is guilty. In fact Foley writes the words "innocent til proven guilty".
Also, stop with the bullshit line that somehow the number of men falsely accused is equal to the number of rapes. Some of you are coming off as douchy "men's rights" crybabies. Grow up snowflakes.