Nebraska approves girls wrestling as an 'emerging' sport

It was a tale of two sports within the state Nebraska, as the NSAA -- the Nebraska Scholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for student athletic activities in the Cornhusker State -- came to two different conclusions about rules for two different high school sports this week. The NSAA Board of Directors voted Thursday that bowling will become a sanctioned sport in Nebraska, but girls wrestling will have to wait longer to become fully sanctioned, which would include an official, separate state tournament.

Here's an explanation of what happened at the NSAA regarding creating more opportunities for Nebraska high school student-athletes.

The NSAA Representative Assembly voted 31-20 Thursday to add bowling as the first new championship sport in the state since softball joined the Nebraska high school state championship roster in the 1990s.

Girls wrestling fell three votes short (28-23) of the three-fifths threshold needed to join fully-sanctioned status. However, girls wrestling gained approval as an emerging sport by a 7-1 vote earlier in the day at the NSAA Board of Directors meeting.

That emerging status allows girls over the next three seasons to participate in both their school's existing co-ed wrestling program and the emerging girls wrestling program. There would not be a separate girls tournament at the start, but the NSAA board could adopt one within a three-year window.

With the NSAA decision this week concerning the decision NOT to officially sanction girls wrestling in Nebraska (while leaving the door open to that eventuality in the next three years), girls' high school wrestling has enjoyed tremendous growth in the past couple years. At the end of 2019, Utah became the 20th state to add girls' wrestling as an officially sanctioned sport. During calendar year 2019, five other states announced the addition of sanctioned girls' wrestling, including New Mexico, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas and Maryland.

To provide some additional perspective ... as recently as the beginning of 2018, six states had separate state wrestling championships for girls: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas and Washington State. During 2018, eight additional states announced the establishment of a girls' state championships. it remains that 23 states have sanctioned separate wrestling competitions for girls at the high school level. That is a tremendous growth for girls wrestling in recent years; less than a handful of years ago -- in fact, as recent as in 2018 -- just six states had sanctioned separate girls state wrestling championships.


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