West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Making Excuses, Part III

In Part III of "Making Excuses" I will discuss the self-pity syndrome we often observe in athletes.

After 20 years as a wrestling official, don't tell me nobody likes you. Why, I have been called everything from blind to the male off-spring of Lassie...Don't you just love it when others show so much concern for your family background!

To further emphasize my point, here are a few other delightful experiences I've had as a referee. Once after a dual meet, a devoted fan from the losing team frankly informed me that I was the worst official he had ever seen. In response, I graciously told him, "Sir, I promise I will keep on trying until I get it right." He walked away...speechless. On another occasion, following the conclusion of a grueling three-day tournament, a wrestling parent came up to me and complained that I was very inconsistent during the event. Open to constructive criticism, I asked how was I inconsistent? Was it my out-of-bounds calls? He said no. Was it the way I called stalling? No, again. Was I inconsistent on takedowns, reversals, escapes, near-falls, or pins? Nope. Then please, tell me: "How was I inconsistent?" He finally replied, "Well, ref, when you were faced with matches involving injury time-outs, sometimes you would walk out to the injured wrestler with the injury time clock in your hand, and sometimes you wouldn't. I immediately assured him that I would be more consistent in the future, wondering why I wasted 15 minutes of my time on such a ludicrous matter. Now, I am no where to be found after a dual meet or tournament. It is like I disappear from the face of the earth.

Finally, as many of you know, I write the wrestling column--MAT TALK--and I have been doing so since 1978...for the Wheeling News-Register and the Steubenville Herald-Star. And although I enjoy the experience very much, this exposure, at times, has often been more of a curse than a blessing. Just listen to some of the lovely remarks I have to put up with during a match.
Notice that the term "Ref" has been substituted by my last name. It's not "Hey, Ref, you stink," but "Hey, Welker, you stink." A much more personalized touch.
Or how about this one: "Go back to writing MAT TALK, Welker!"
And the one I really like best--"Yoh, Welker! You oughta read your column every once and a while to learn the rules."

So, the next time you think nobody likes you, just remember the Rodney Dangerfield of sports--the official--and you'll realize that you're certainly not alone.

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Updated November 17, 1998