West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the WV Controversy regarding Coaches Rating Officials

Only through practice can new ideas be truly evaluated.

There has been a minor controversy going on between West Virginia wrestling officials and coaches over the last two years on coaches rating officials. Let’s take a look at it, and maybe suggest a compromise.

A new policy has taken effect where officials now receive reports on how all coaches (who they worked games for) rated them throughout the preceding year. On the surface, it would seem to be a good learning tool. However, the practice has caused some serious apprehension amongst many wrestling coaches throughout the state.

In a nutshell, coaches feel very uncomfortable rating officials, knowing that the referees will be given their evaluations of match performance. One highly successful mat mentor actually informed me that he would not rate any official low for fear of a referee becoming upset and possibly being bias in future matches.

On the flip side, I have been told by a number of officials that they were going to confront certain coaches for giving them low ratings for particular competitions. This only accentuates the tension between the two factions.

As for myself, my main officiating concern involves constant self-improvement so I can offer wrestlers a fair playing arena when overseeing their meets. Quite frankly, I don’t want to know who rated me low or high. In fact, I throw my coaches’ rating sheets away immediately when they come. Why ... because I just want to perform my refereeing responsibilities with the mind-set that every coach views me as an honest, dedicated, and competent referee.

I am an educator with over 30 years of teaching students at all learning levels, and had more than my share of psychology courses. With such practical experience and theoretical knowledge, I have a pretty good handle on human nature. Well, folks, be it coaches or officials, there is a minority of individuals in wrestling (and sports in general) out there who have vindictive tendencies. So what can be done to minimize this phenomenon? I think I have a workable solution. Consider the following rationale and compromise.

To begin with, I sincerely believe that all coaches should have anonymity when evaluating official performance. Because of the many, many hours conscientious athletic mentors spend preparing their proteges for competition, they deserve the opportunity to voice their honest opinions without fear of official repercussions.

On the other hand, good officials have the right to a fair assessment by coaches. Referee ratings should not be tarnished by one or two low scores from angry coaches, who impetuously judged their ability on one tough call that may have decided the bout.

I think the answer to this predicament is quite simple. After all coaches’ ratings of officials are forwarded anonymously to the West Virginia SSAC office, drop the referees’ 2 or 3 highest and lowest ratings and then compute their averages. This should satisfy both parties.

Traditionally, West Virginia wrestling coaches and officials have enjoyed a positive coexistence together. They have a mutual respect for each other’s significant role in the mat sport.

In sum, all well-meaning coaches and referees have one priority in mind: “The Kids.” By instituting the compromise suggested in this commentary, both groups would not be sidetracked by ratings, but continue to make concrete strides for the betterment of scholastic wrestling.

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