Here at Bloodround, we like to keep it positive. Listening to the podcast and reading articles you'll quickly find us on the happy side of things when it comes to wrestling. Not only is a positive attitude a much better way to look at life, wrestling deserves it. Freestyle rules have changed to more exciting wrestling and participation and viewing has picked up of freestyle wrestling as a result. College Wrestling attendance is growing and the consecutive sell-outs of the NCAA finals is getting noticed. Live streaming access has allowed viewership of wrestling to be at an all-time high and allows loyal wrestling fans the ability to follow their favorite wrestlers and teams without the dependency of having to convince traditional TV networks.
There is plenty of room to grow though and that is true in any sport (or organization). Hell, even the NFL has the Jacksonville Jaguars. So here are my current largest problems facing wrestling in no particular order.
Olympic Brackets, Format, and Repechage
- I'm not sure and have never been explained the idea behind weight classes having to wrestle the whole bracket in about two hours on one day, hit repechage matches and then come back for medals. A Gold Medal finals like the NCAA Finals would be riveting TV. For the Olympics and for World Championships each year, it would make sense to have sessions like NCAA Wrestling to eventually break it down for the finals. Maybe the Russians can't make weight multiple days, but with weight classes on different days its tough to follow along for the casual fan. Repechage combined with a blind draw makes bronze medals awarded in a trivial manner as well. We have to be able to do better in our world championships as a sport. If a blind draw and repechage were the only way to jam a tournament in to part of a festival, I could understand. Our athletes and countries deserve better when it comes to who gets world medals.
- The one minute neutral periods rarely result in a takedown so college OT matches end in ride outs way too often. In my opinion, it's pretty close to the worst way to decide a match. I think going in to a 2 minute neutral and then a one minute each ride out with riding time would give a lot more action. 30 second rideouts to win a match has to be the most boring way for a spectator to see a match finish. We need less matches to finish this way.
Criteria in Freestyle & Greco-Roman
- It's well documented that this is stupid. Many matches I've seen have resulted in confusion on who won or even worse who is winning with under 15 seconds left. A 2 or 3 minute overtime with 2 of 3 judges declaring the winner is a better method.
- The shot clock has proven an ineffective method of calling stalling. It's arbitrary, downright stupid, and leads to an oddly high amount of whistles in a match. When someone is winning 5-4 (or 4-4 in stupid criteria) with 45 seconds left they can essentially run away. A more folkstyle method of a warning and then a point is a much better method than what freestyle currently has to offer.
USA Wrestling Events
- I know it's tradition, but the US Open needs to move from Vegas. Having the World Cup in LA, and the World Champioships in Las Vegas hurts the growth of wrestling in the United States. It makes about as much sense as putting an international soccer match in Talladega. Why does USA Wrestling continue to host premier events away from the wrestlers and their fans? Barnstorming matches have been effective with the Flo Premier League and AGON, but isn't this USA Wrestling's job? Is having David Taylor wrestle anybody in any gym in Pennsylvania not a good thing for wrestling? What about the US Open in Minnesota (new Vikings stadium) or Pennsylvania?
- It's time for the singlet to go. I know, I know....but technology has caught up and there are many, better options out there. To grow the sport on the youth & scholastic level, the singlet has been an obstacle. Now with style & functionality demonstrated with MMA, Jiu Jitzu, and even Flo Premier League, the obstacle that is the singlet in unnecessary. Remember, Dan Gable didn't wear a singlet in college.
Europe Getting Back in to Freestyle
- The northern Europeans are only seemingly competing in Greco-Roman unless they emigrated to the country from a wrestling power. Not long ago Germany, Czech, and other variations of 1st world European countries were winning freestyle medals. Not only did any non-former Soviet countries win any Freestyle medals at the 2014 World's, but those countries barely sent any guys. I would expect Germany and others to at least send a full team. UWW needs to make a priority of getting these countries wrestling freestyle. It's hard to imagine great international growth when a large majority of 1st world countries are barely participating.
Age of Officials in High School & College
- The average age of officials everywhere you look is staggering. Wrestling is a demanding sport to officiate and I can't imagine doing a whole day tournament in my 60's. We need more young wrestlers to get in to officiating and protect our sport. It'll never be perfect, but we can certainly do a lot better than what our current pool of officials has to offer (plus the current ones aren't getting any younger).
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to suggest other issues in the comments below or on Twitter @Bloodround