West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on How Other Sports Could Learn Wrestling

The flagrant misconduct rule in wrestling is truly the panacea for correcting gross negative behavior in all sports. Why wonít other sports follow suit? I think I know why, but first allow me the opportunity to explain this wrestling regulation.

A wrestler who commits an act such as fighting, verbal vulgarity, biting, excessive unnecessary roughness, or obscene gestures of any kind will be:

No other sport has such an unforgiving penalty for very inappropriate actions. And take note. I observed it in practice as an official at the Wendyís Brooke Classic, one of the top 20 invitational tournaments in the nation. Hereís what happened.

During a championship finals match, the wrestler from Shaler, PA totally lost his composure after losing. He was disqualified from the tournament and his squad lost 25 team-points.

Shaler High School went from third place to fifth place, losing the opportunity to take home a team trophy. Itís the first time I personally saw this occurrence in the mat sport since the rule was enacted in the early 1990s. Why?...because of the consequences described above.

Other athletic events could learn from wrestling. Consider the following make-believe rule changes to check outrageous behavior in a number of high-profile sports:
1) A baseball pitcher is removed from the game for intentionally hitting the batter. Penalty: A deduction of one run. (If there is no score, minus one run.).
2) A basketball player is ejected who obnoxiously offers one of his rivals an obscene gesture. Penalty: The team loses all the points he scored during the game.
3) A football player is removed from the stadium for kicking an opponent lying on the ground. Penalty: A deduction of seven team points, equivalent to a touchdown and extra point. (If the team has not scored yet, minus seven points.)
4) Hockey players who fight or commit other flagrant acts of misconduct should always be ejected from the premises. Penalty: The deduction of one team point. (If the team has not scored yet, minus one point.)

No question about it, unsportsmanlike behavior would definitely be kept to a minimum. So why donít other athletic contests follow wrestlingís example to eliminate improper deeds. The answer is quite simple: the mind-set of fanatical sports fans and greed.

Letís face it, the majority of spectators enjoy the violence of less than civilized behavior from athletes. Since it is so gratifying to them, the powers to be will not institute stricter regulations. Their primary concern is the number of tickets sold at the door.

I, for one, will not spend a penny to watch poor behavior inadequately punished on the playing field, ice rink, or gym floor -- and profane, lewd behavior in the stands. What tremendous role models these athletes and onlookers (often parents) are for our young athletes!

Of course, I am in the extreme minority. But I like it that way, especially when I am on the side of right. Still, the next time you watch one of the sporting events mentioned above (and profoundly think about what I have emphasized), youíll better understand where I am coming from.

Though amateur wrestling is undoubtedly one of the most physically grueling sports contrived by man, itís code of ethics epitomizes the highest standards of mutual respect among athletic adversaries!

The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.
-- Arthur Koestler

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