West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Humorous Officiating Experiences

Refereeing can sometimes be a "Comedy of Errors" -- true confessions from yours truly. Officiating in day-long wrestling tournaments can often be very trying ordeals, especially during those endurance marathons known as the Saturday afternoon sessions. Let me describe two calls I made (which I still can't believe) due to fatique near the conclusion of such tournament rounds.

The "Who's on Top" Call

In this particular incident, it was the third period and Wrestler A chose top. So, I told Wrestler B to take the bottom referee's position which he did in proper fashion. Here's where I ventured into the "twilight zone." I immediately blew the whistle and Wrestler B quickly stood up and faced his opponent.

There was one problem, however. I forgot to tell Wrestler A to take the top position. He really felt hurt and his coach wasn't too happy, either. Returning to reality (thinking it wise not to award an escape), I promptly stopped the match and suggested we try that scene over again-- with a foolish grin on my face. Actually, it was the quickest escape I've ever seen (Hmmm!).

Crossing the "Line" to Insanity

My second boo-boo occurred during a near-fall situation. Wrestler C was pinning Wrestler D when suddenly Wrestler D's entire body passed beyond the out-of-bounds line, along with Wrestler C, so I blew the whistle. It would have been a great call if it was the out-of-bounds line. Unfortunately, it was the ten-foot circle line in the MIDDLE OF THE MAT! Oh, Crap!

Needless to say, Wrestler C's coach wasn't too pleased since his boy was in the act of pinning his opponent. I might add that Wrestler D's coach was smiling while I felt like shrinking behind the ten-foot circle line.

You see, in occurrences like this (involving an inadvertent whistle), the referee must restart the wrestlers in the referee's position. Thus, although he did get his back points, Wrestler C lost the pinning-position advantage. His coach, I must admit, wasn't very enthused with the outcome. (I had no problem understanding why.) However, thirty seconds later, Wrestler C finally pinned Wrestler D. THANK YOU, GOD!

I could tell you about the time I raised a wrestler's hand at the end of the SECOND period, but I think I have embarrassed myself enough for one column.

Yes, those afternoon sessions can be physically and mentally grueling on officials, causing some very strange calls to take place. Well, I think it's great to know that we, as officials, can laugh at our mistakes. Now if we could only get the coaches to do the same!

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Updated September 29, 1997