West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Wrestling Coaches and the Press

Now more than ever, scholastic wrestling coaches must form a partnership with the "press," especially when faced with the knowledge that college mat programs are being dropped all over the country. Even today, the newspaper is the prime source of information for most Americans. Will Rogers once said, "All I know is what I read in the paper." Thus, wrestling coaches must take full advantage of this news media, not ignore it. A wrestling coach who does not promote good public relations with the "Fourth Estate" (the newspaper) is cheating both his athletes and the community at large. It is imperative that every wrestling coach should be prepared (at all times) to supply the sports editor with the latest team developments. The following twelve guidelines will assist the intelligent wrestling coach in establishing a solid rapport with the local press.

1. Send a roster of team members along with a wrestling schedule to the sports editor before the season begins.
2. Supply the sports editor with fresh, updated information.
3. Always be available for interviews and pictures.
4. Be optimistic. Keep a positive, but sensible outlook on the team's chances for success. Never undersell opponents or degrade your matmen for a poor performance.
5. Be smart. Speak positively about the press. Never downgrade a sports editor or reporter in public or in front of your wrestlers.
6. Keep the sports editor's name and phone number handy. Call in all scores on time. Note: Some people in the community mistakenly blame the press for not reporting meet scores. In reality, the coach failed to call in the scores on time.
7. Even when you lose, it is very important that you phone in the scores.
8. Report the facts. A reporter is not interested in publishing alibis or complaints about poor officiating.
9. Stress the high points of the meet. Have them ready to go when calling in the scores.
10. When something newsworthy happens on your team (or elsewhere regarding our sport) inform the press immediately.
11. As you discuss the competition with a reporter, single out great individual performances, but don't forget to commend the entire squad for their dedicated efforts during the meet.
12. Most importantly, courtesy counts. Show your appreciation by inviting the sports editor to the wrestling banquet or awards assembly.

Most wrestling coaches work many long hours (Monday through Saturday) to develop competitive teams. Likewise, they must realize that their matmen's efforts deserve the backing of every area sports enthusiast. Hence, in order to build a strong following, they must keep the public up to date on their team's progress--via positve public relations with the local sportswriters. In closing, wrestling coaches who don't have time for the news media are not only slighting their grapplers, but they're also hurting the sport of wrestling. We certainly don't want that, particularly during these troubled times for collegiate wrestling.

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Updated January 26, 1998