West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on the Jurisdiction of Officials

Do today's collegiate and scholastic officials have too much power? Many college and high school coaches believe this to be true and feel as though they are put at a disadvantage during dual meets and tournaments.

These mentors contend that, with the present rules, a coach is not given the opportunity to express his own opinions during the course of a match. For example, if a coach feels a rule has been misapplied or questions judgment, the referee is required to warn him on the first occurrence, penalize him one team point on the second offense, and on the third offense he loses another team point--and told to leave for the duration of that dual meet or that session of a tournament.

In comparison, coaches in other sports (such as football, baseball, hockey, and basketball) are given much more freedom to express their concerns over calls made by the officials. As one university coach put it, "Often at matside, I feel paranoid about the official. I feel that even if he makes a bad call, I can not express my displeasure or ask for an explanation for fear of having him penalize my team. To be quite honest, I feel as though I am 'bound and gagged' at my seat."

This opinion is by no means an isolated one. More and more coaches want to see rule changes made that would be less punishing to coaches, permitting them at least an opportunity to learn why a referee made the call he did. Until such modifications take place, it is my personal contention that officials should use both common sense and tact when confronted by a coach during a match. I believe that a coach who approaches an official in a professional manner has a right to know why a close call was made. Coaches and wrestlers work too hard not to receive the courtesy of an explanation for an official's decision.

In essence, mutual respect should always be the decorum during dual meets and tournaments when coaches and officials disagree. Otherwise, the wrestlers may be the ones who are hurt the most. And that would be a true injustice that we must not allow to happen!

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