West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

...on Wrestling Recommendation and Rule

Let's take a look at a West Virginia state wrestling recommendation and a national rule to objectively see how they are doing near mid-season. The West Virginia "Handshake" suggestion and National Federation "Shoelace" rule are wrestling news items of the day.

I truly believe that both ideas were conceived with good intentions regarding the mat sport. However, there are some folks in the sport that have questioned one's reasoning and the other's process of application.

The West Virginia Handshake Recommendation
The West Virginia Handshake recommendation was formulated by the WV Wrestling Coaches' Committee appointed by the WVSSAC. It basically states that competing wrestlers should not shake the opposing coach's hand until they are out of the wrestling area, instead of by matside immediately after the match. Why? Well, there have been isolated instances in which a coach would not shake the opposing wrestier's hand, or the wrestler would make a snide remark during such encounters.

Now note, the only National Federation requirement each grappler has after the bout is to shake his opponent's hand.

Is there a penalty for a wrestler walking over to his adversary's coach to shake hands at the conclusion of the match? No, it is just recommended. So if it occurs, an official can only observe, but can not penalize. After all, it is universally construed as an act of good sportsmanship.

Where do I fall in reference to this dilemma? Personally, I believe that both coaches should be astute enough to know when it would be inappropriate to perform the above procedure. Due to very intense, emotional situations, it would be wiser to dispense with such additional amenities.

The bottom line is -- there is no penalty for this act, which is deemed by many in athletics as a positive act or mutual respect in the competitive arena.

I report; you make the decision.

The National Federation (NF) "Shoelace" Rule
The regulation basically states that all wrestlers must have their tied shoelaces, more commonly called "bow-knots," taped so they won't come untied. If the rule is not honored, the head coach is assessed with an sportsmanlike conduct penalty. Also, the wrestler is charged with an injury time-out.

To understand the rule, you must comprehend the nature of the beast. Over the years, many wrestlers would slyly untie shoelaces -- and then ask the referee for time to re-tie them, unethically gaining needed rest periods. The match official had no recourse but to grant their requests in the past.

Thus, the aforementioned rule was enacted. So, what's the problem? Well, many coaches have been disturbed by the added cost. Beyond complaining, they have also suggested a possible alternative. Allow me to explain.

As just mentioned, the major concern of our coaches has been the added expense to their already financially "strapped" athletic budgets. Purchasing numerous rolls of athletic tape can cost a lot of money over the course of the season. Further, they point out that the aesthetic appearance of taped shoes looks, for lack of a better term, very "shoddy."

All scholastic mentors agree with the spirit of the rule, they just don't like the present letter (or practice) of the rule -- and they have a very sound solution to the problem.

I have spoken to many coaches throughout West Virginia and Ohio, and they recommend the following: "Why not require every wrestler to tie a 'double knot' in their shoelaces?

Rarely do such knots become untied. But if they do (and all coaches agree), the referee should penalize as the rule is presently penned.

Again, I report, you make the decision.

"Law cannot persuade where it cannot punish."
-- Thomas Fuller

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