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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Your job this month is to support wrestling. You are to vote, you are to attend events, and you are to be a publicity generator. Your Facebook friends will be inundated with your appeals. You WILL Save Olympic Wrestling.
For quick reference here are the things you should be doing at this moment, or have completed in the past week. Please don't read the Mailbag, until you've completed your assignments. The TA will be checking your work.
Vote for Wrestling.
Vote for Kyle Dake.
Support the Curby Cup (Chicago), Sunday, May 12.
Support Rumble on the Rails (New York City), Wednesday, May 15.
Support the United-4-Wrestling (Los Angeles), Sunday, May 19.
Like FILA_Official on Facebook.
To your questions ...
Q: What do you think of Blair academy hiring Solomon Fleckman as their head coach? Why was Charles Danhof not promoted from interim to head coach?
-- Gregg Y.
Foley: Solomon Fleckman has a history at Blair Academy, and unless he's become a worse coach with experience, I see him being the right fit for the program. He's a smart, engaging guy with a tough streak that earns him respect with his wrestlers. Fleckman has a tough role to fill, stepping in for the legendary Coach Buxton, but he'll manage what he can, and I think, do a superb job.
Q: I've noticed recently that guys will compete for multiple teams at a tournament, like Reece Humphrey at the U.S. Open wrestling for the NYAC and Ohio RTC. Would you be able to shed some light on these teams? Are wrestlers awarded a scholarship so to speak if they wrestle for a club, or are they expected to work a nine to five and compete on an elite level after putting in a day at the office? Do different teams cater to different styles like in MMA with Team Alpha Male primarily pumping out the little guys while the Blackzillians are known for their striking? How does a wrestler decide to join or represent a certain team?
-- Curt H.
Foley: Non-profit clubs set up by wealthy individuals have supported the efforts of our international wrestlers for decades. Sunkist Kids, NYAC, and Gator were some of the best-known entities in the sport. The wrestlers would work as coaches, or train at Colorado Springs, and earn additional income through the non-profit contributions of the clubs. The wrestlers are given a 1099 for their monies, and made responsible for any tax liability it might create.
Recently, the training situation, aided by relaxed NCAA regulations, has moved towards college campuses, with Ohio State, Cornell and Michigan all hosting top-notch teams. Those teams work out together and earn funding from local donors. However, they also receive monies from their traditional backers like the NYAC and Sunkist Kids. These powerhouses, along with Titan Mercury WC, are the ones to accumulate team points because they fund wrestlers from all different clubs and independents.
As for why they decide each program, that depends on their needs. The Ohio RTC is probably best known for its lightweights, but that doesn't exclude them from having some heavy-hitters in the upperweights. Really, it's all about relationships. If you know a guy, or have worked before with the coaches on staff (how Michigan landed Herbert), you'll make the decision to train. As for the money, that too comes from pre-existing relationships. If you're coming from a school that has a nice relationship with Sunkist Kids and the Martori's are treating you well, then it figures you stay under their banner.
Q: I read a couple of articles about the India Wrestling League scheduled to kick off this November. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this league. Is this something that can sustain and grow, or will it go the way of the Real Pro Wrestling?
-- Dan K.
Foley: I love the idea and I think that the Indian sports market is prepared to explode along with its middle class.
Indians are obsessed with cricket. Not like we are with football, but an everyday, every moment passion for the sport like soccer that doesn't take a major seasonal hiatus. Though this has been true since British colonization, cricket was difficult to monetize because the games could last as many as three days. Finally a few bright Indians got together and said, "Hey, our rules make it difficult for fans to understand. I think we need to make a change."
Enter: The IPL.
Shorter than three-day long cricket matches, the IPL games take 2.5 to 3 hours and are littered with cheerleaders, hot women in the crowd, sponsorships, rule reminders, good commentary, and rife with storytelling. On my trip three weeks ago I was not only capable of picking up the rules in 30 minutes. I was cheering for a team, and by the end standing outside the hotel entryway cheering on the Chennai Super Kings!
IWL could do much the same thing. One of the ideas is that you can play the reruns in an abbreviated manner, much like they do IPL. Instead of just showing the live event which still features plenty of camera angles and smash cuts, the IWL would show matches, but cut through the highlights to build the drama. It takes away from the live aspect of the event, but adds an incredible amount of excitement.
Though Indian wrestling has very simple rules, it's my understanding they'll be using freestyle rules. There are currently 6 teams and an expected 30 total matches. Wrestlers from around the world have also been invited to participate.
My thought is that it'll have support, and will build on that support over time. However, I think the reaction to the IOC's May, and possible September decisions, will decide how popular the league will become. If they are able to capture the emotions of a disappointed wrestling community, or if they are able to piggyback the jovial disposition of a recently approved sport, then the IWL could be a big deal.
Q: Who is Bloomsburg going to hire?
-- John K.
Foley: There are plenty of solid young candidates. The most important part is that they hire someone who can become the coach/CEO that the spot needs. For that I'd look to the schools that have head coaches who taught their assistants these lessons. Cornell has a stable of solid options, as does Virginia with Alex Clemson who went to college in Pennsylvania. Lehigh has a great one in Brad Dillon, and Maryland with two-time Nebraska All-American Todd Beckerman.
Real Pro Wrestling
Wrestling needs more of this:
Beat the Streets LA's new short film: Stella(r) Kids
Q: One of the more popular events in the Olympic events happens to be beach volleyball in particular women's beach volleyball. I am not trying to be disrespectful to our great and wonderful sport, but I think beach wrestling would be a better substitute for Greco-Roman for the person who's never watched wrestling. Now if you have guys in fight shorts or practice pants (you know the ones that resemble biker shorts) and for women a two-piece that resembles a women's track uniform or the beach volleyball two pieces.
Do you think that FILA would go for it? I think the IOC could eat up if they are looking for you're looking TV. ratings because there would be an element of sex appeal. Would the athletes go for it? Do you think it would cheapen the sport? What do you think?
-- Marcus R.
Foley: You know that sex sells, but you feel guilty because it might make you look misogynist. Don't fret. There is some major support from WOMEN for what you're advocating. And the attitudes about sex in sports is changing rapidly.
Singlets aren't made for women, and the only sexism comes from insisting that they wear the same uniform as men. This is the actually the same argument that the Australian women's basketball team used when they decided to change their uniforms for the Olympics. Yeah, some miserable, un-fun woman had a public moaning, but this was THEIR decision. What's wrong with wanting to look good while you compete? And they DO look good.
Women should move over to something more flattering. Two-pieces might not be the perfect answer, but there are some much, much better options that could be made available. Not only would this promote better viewership, but it might also promote more participation by women who right now see wrestling as the ultimate male sport.
As for the men, we too have to bag the singlet. Depsite being all that most American fans know to be the uniform of wrestling, the singlet IS NOT THE TRADITIONAL OUTFIT OF WRESTLING. In fact, in a sport that has spanned more than 9k years of recorded competition, singlets have only been used from 50. You do the math, but I'm pretty sure that barely registers as a blip on the radar. The most traditional outfit would be shorts with no shirt, and shoes that match in style, but that can have differing flare.
For men, singlets need to be replaced with fight shorts and either short sleeve or long sleeve rash guards. Ridiculous as you think it seems, there are wide swaths of humanity who cannot get past the awkwardness of two men in tight singlets rolling around with each other. Call them small-minded, moan till you're miserable, but you are never going to overcome the association between singlet wrestling and negative sexual connotations until the outfits are less revealing in the crotch. Changing the outfits would also generate MILLIONS of dollars in apparel sales, and create a more comfortable environment for pubescent teenagers just entering the sport.
Wrestling should always be about the wrestling. Singlets are a distraction that has NO cultural significance outside of the wrestling community's nostalgia for what they think it means to other people. Ironically, singelts represent the exact opposite of what we want them to represent.
Seriously, get on board already. The singlet is dead.
Q: Just to add to your discussion on NCAA venue location. What about Kansas City? I know that the last time they were here in 2003 it probably didn't get the best response. Since then Kansas City has added the Sprint Center downtown, which holds around 18,000, the Power and Light District right across the street, a premier place for socializing, drinks, and food. Also many hotels have been added and renovated to accommodate many incoming events. It has been a great host for the Big 12 basketball tournament and a regional site for the NCAA basketball tournament. KCI is only 20 minutes away and many area high schools would be able to accommodate workout sessions if needed. Of course I am a little biased, but would love to see it back here and I believe a central, Midwest location is the best for college wrestling and making it profitable. Your thoughts?
Foley: I'm sorry, Robert, but there is no way I could endorse Kansas City. The sport needs to go bigger, and that means being seen in major media markets. I like your city. I've had fun and gotten into trouble in your city. But to be a main attraction the sport is going to have to be seen by more people, not fewer.
I'll be in town again soon, and will be sure to give the Power and Light District some close inspection. Maybe that'll change my mind.
Q: Quick question for your mailbag. The wrestling community is very vocal about the ball grab/clinch and we're all saying the same thing ... that it's terrible. It's been hated on since it was implemented by FILA (for good reason, it sucks). WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO CHANGE THIS RULE? Who do I have to write letters to?! I'm sick of watching great matches be decided by this garbage. Just at this year's U.S. Open Oliver vs. Metcalf, Oliver vs. Russell, Stieber vs. Humphrey, the list goes on forever. I'm trying to be proactive and I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to do something about this nonsense. The 2/3 periods rule and pushout rule are also terrible but I think the clinch is the worst thing to happen to our sport.
Foley: The ball draw is dead. No matter what happens with the sport, and with FILA it will be eliminated. Not saying that the hair-brained ideas of what comes next won't be equally irritating, but it's a start.
We'll also see a return to cumulative scoring and more passivity calls.
I like the pushout rule, but it can't be worth as much as a takedown, which I think will also be addressed in the rule changes.
Q: Destin McCauley: what do you think he does at Nebraska? If memory serves me correctly, he is projected at 149 or 157. Jake Sueflohn just moved up to 149, and he was a Big Ten finalist. At 157, there is two-time All American James Green. Both will be juniors.
Do you think after postponing college for two years, McCauley redshirts? Do you think he wrestles off one of these two guys? Or do you think Nebraska shuffles the weights.
-- Mark K.
Foley: DMac is going 149 and I'd project him as a high All-American or national finalist. The kid might be wishy-washy on where he'd like to study, but when it comes time to scrap he can lay down a beating. Remember that he has a win over Hunter Stieber
Introducing the new Mailbag feature: Informative Rant of the Week!
Re: Las Vegas hosting the U.S. Open.
Because it's FREE, or nearly so.
Why are the PA State Wrestling Championships held in Hershey, or all places?
Because the GIANT Center is Free.
Why is it free?
Because the Herco Company OWNS it, as well as a fair amount of the local hotels and eating establishments, to say nothing of the adjacent Outlets and Hershey Amusement Park.
Several years ago, PSU/Bryce Jordan Center put in a bid to sponsor the PA States Wrestling tourney -- and put in an incredibly low-ball bid -- but still lost! They were furious and did some digging -- they unearthed the Herco deal and complained to PIAA about "the unfairness of it all ... " Herco simply came out a said that 'all was fair' because they were willing to "eat" the Arena cost for PIAA because they made it up on the back end with their local monopoly in services.
Same for Vegas. Airfare is incredibly cheap because it's subsidized. Hotel rooms are incredibly cheap because they're subsidized. Food is incredibly cheap, and amazingly plentiful, because it's subsidized. The Vegas Convention Center is incredibly cheap, or free, because it's subsidized.
These are all subsidized by the casinos that support these events and activities, via the Vegas Convention Center Authority, whose mission is to promote ATTENDANCE IN VEGAS, anywhere in Vegas and for any reason, because the town/casinos make up the 'loss-leaders' in gambling take.
So long as Vegas is willing to step up and make it cheap to be there, especially on 'off-season' times like the U.S. Open in April/May, they'll be held there.
-- Mike R.
Since it's the time of year for graduation speeches, I thought I'd leave you with arguably the greatest of all-time.