West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

...on the West Virginia "Sock Rule"

Last spring, the nine-member West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Committee again voted to continue the "Sock Rule" in the Mountain State. The regulation simply states:

The rationale behind this rule is two-fold in nature. First, the Committee feels that it is more suitable to wear socks for hygiene purposes. And secondly, members of the committee believe that wearing socks presents a better public persona.

This rule is definitely acceptable by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS), which oversees all scholastic sports. Why…because it is even more stringent in reference to athletic attire that must be worn for mat-sport competition.

In past years, officials have been lax in making this call when wrestlers forgot to wear socks, yours truly included. Because of the new rule, this leniency amongst referees can no longer occur in West Virginia. Allow me to explain.

Now if a wrestler steps on the mat improperly dressed, he or she is penalized with a technical violation match point for his or her opponent. The head coach is also hit with unsportsmanlike conduct, which is a deduction of one team point.

Furthermore, the wrestlers must use their injury time to correct the problem.

If the situation is not straightened out within the one and a half minute time limit, the matman loses by default.

Whether or not you agree with the West Virginia sock rule makes no difference. It must and shall be enforced! I have no opinion one way or the other regarding the Mountain State regulation.

There certainly is no competitive edge to the wrestler who does not wear socks, unless, possibly, it's the "smelly feet" factor. But seriously, folks, I, personally think wearing socks does present a better image for the sport of scholastic wrestling when competing in public.

The ruling may disturb some wrestling enthusiasts. Be that as it may, we have to live with the "Sock Rule" at the present time, and offenders of the rule will be appropriately penalized.

Anyhow, to those individuals who still feel the regulation is silly, don't be too upset. I remember a time when wrestlers only scored one point for a takedown. But that's another Mat Talk story.

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