West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Fan Sportsmanship

Since its introduction in the state of West Virginia, the sport of amateur wrestling has increased immensely in popularity.

Nonetheless, like all other athletic contests lately, I perceive a cancer growing in the form of unsportsmanlike behavior - specifically that of the fans.

Forgive my preaching, but when I recently had to listen to a gallery of spectators "boo" a youth at the OVAC Wrestling Championships, it was no longer possible for me to keep quiet. Let's ask those people who ridiculed this young man the following questions:
Would you downgrade an athlete who ran five miles a day and "gave-his-all" at practice?
Could you belittle an athlete who has trained, on his own, for an entire year?
Or, would you humilate an athlete, knowing that he was a perfect gentleman who worked hard at his studies and obeyed his coach's every word?

Feeling a bit uncomfortable? You should if you ever reacted the way the above fans did. Now, this is no isolated phenomenon. A number of years ago, the late, great Rod Oldham, head wrestling mentor at Parkersburg South High School, publicly reprimanded his fans (in the paper) for their improper conduct toward visiting teams. Yes, everyone wants his or her team to win, but unfortunately, one must lose. When things donl go your way, think before reacting - you won't be sorry.

In closing this commentary, I would like to pose one final question before you witness another wrestling event. How would you respond if the crowd was intimidating a wrestler who just won an important match, wrestling with all his heart -- and he was your SON?

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Updated June 6, 1997