"Youth Wrestling Tournaments and Those Marvelous Trophies"
"Oh, just look at those beautiful big trophies!" This thought consumes the minds of many youth coaches and parents. I say, "Oh, just look at those totally insignificant big trophies! They won't even be a memory when your youthful wrestler reaches high school."
Allow me to explain my point.
It sometimes seems as though youth wrestling season never ends, as the parents or parent-coaches take their child-wrestlers "trophy hunting" from tournament to tournament. Do you fit this mold? Here's a test. How would you answer the following question:
"How was your child's wrestling tournament last weekend?"If your usual answer is similar to "B," then this "Mat Talk" column is directed at YOU. The following are signs that you have completely lost perspective:
Answer A: "The competition was great. My boy lost, but he learned a lot. We're going to work on his mistakes and basics at practice."
Answer B: "Boy, the awards were super! You should see my boy's 4th place plaque! I can't wait for next week's tournament; their trophies are even better."
1. You're still taking your 6-year old to wrestling tournaments in the spring and early summer, even when he's not that excited about going. (Let him play baseball!)Although I am picking on irrational youth wrestling coaches/parents, the same could easily be said of many youth soccer, baseball, football, etc. coaches/parents as well. If this column upsets you, then I must have hit a nerve. However, should you be shaking your head in agreement, I salute you as a sensible youth coach/parent. With a wholesome understanding that youth wrestling is a training ground, you are wisely preparing your child for the possibility of becoming an all-state high school wrestler in Huntington, Columbus or Hershey. State championship trophies are much smaller than those youth tournament awards, but they won't be found in some web-infested attic or garage years later.
2. You brag that your 5-year old just won some so-called state tournament. (Oops! Dad forgot to mention there were only four kids in his son's weight class, and the finals match was terminated because his boy's opponent couldn't stop crying.)
3. You take pictures of all the gigantic trophies your second grader won over the last 9-month period. (No doubt your boy will be showing off these photos to his fellow mat men on the high school wrestling team. Forgive the sarcasm.)
4. Your fourth grader is winning many matches and tournaments by using a cowboy (or headlock) takedown. You know "head hunting" is a terrible takedown tactic for youth wrestlers to learn and execute. But you don't care; he's winning! (Warning: If he continues with this bad habit in high school, your boy will rarely be at the top of the place winner's podium . . . if ever.)
5. You waste 100s of dollars weekend upon weekend watching your boy/girl making the same mistakes, win or lose, again and again. (A suggestion: Give up a couple weekends of "trophy hunting," and spend that money sending him/her to a couple wrestling clinics. There are many great wrestling-technique camps out there, where you won't find the experts teaching such moves as the cowboy. But no, "trophy hunting" is more glamorous.)
6. You make your first grader lose a pound so he doesn't have to wrestle tough Johnny Doe. (Hmmm: Did you forget the old adage: "The better the competition, the better one becomes.")
7. You scream at veteran officials when your boy makes a mistake and gets himself pinned, and now won't place and receive that magnificent trophy. (Did you ever wonder what those same officials were thinking while you were making a fool of yourself? I'll tell you: "Oh, yeah, another father-coach who doesn't have a clue.")
8. Finally, You complain to others about the size and quality of the trophies at the youth tournament. (Some history: I remember when high school state champions in the 1950s received medals. Guess what? These senior citizens still have them. I wonder why?)