The old saying, "if I wanted politics, I would flip over to the politics channel" is maybe overly simple. However, TR Foley's Friday mailbag this week was irrelevant, inaccurate and nothing more than obvious disdain more middle America. He basically says, "I'm not saying anything bad about republicans but...." and then proceeds to blame all of wrestling's ailments on anyone who is not progressive politically.
I actually wrote a post thanking wrestling on September 2nd this year. I like to watch sports and I believe sports are popular because they are true competition. NFL ratings are actually down this year, and some are blaming the political controversies that people just don't want to tune in to.
From my September 2nd post:
So thank you Wrestling. Every time I hear these stories I get appreciative that the Wrestling world is really not affected by this disease. You need a stronger character to have the discipline and training to be able to compete at a high level, and our sport is a true merit-based competition. We don't have to argue about 157's like the way football fans may bicker about quarterbacks. We know in March we will see that get settled the right way. It sure allows me to actually enjoy my time when I can relax and watch sports.
I'm not trying to say sports and politics don't naturally intertwine from time to time. Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, the Texas Western Basketball team, and others changed this country for the better through sports far exceeding what any protest could do. Proving yourself through competition is a great societal equalizer for the next generation.
The Wrestling population, however, seems light years ahead of the rest of the sports. Before I thought about writing this, thinking about the population of this year's NCAA semi-finalists' races never crossed my mind. Score another one for wrestling, because when I watch I can leave the politics to the politics writers.
I believe TR Foley has helped wrestling far more than he has ever hurt it, but this attitude he showed in his weekly mailbag column is certainly not helpful. He speaks of "mistakes" in the 1980's & 90's, which barely have anything to do with today. In addition, I don't think SEC wrestling programs were given a choice to start women's wrestling or die, and then chose to die. The almost complete death of NCAA Men's Gymnastics was about the ease of cutting it to comply with Title IX and certainly not about the lack of a female equivalent (212 Men's Gymnastics programs cut while just 18 remain).
The idea wrestling has a current race or gender problem is laughable. I prefer to speak about the year 2016 and not the 1800's. This year I traveled to Iowa for Big Ten's, New York for the NCAA championships, and then back to Iowa for the Olympic Trials. It was an incredible stretch. I watched men & women compete of all races. Loud standing ovations were received for their accolades, just as they should be. You can also clearly see that there are no socioeconomic barriers to wrestling success as there are in some other (clearly more expensive) sports. Opportunities in wrestling are there for everybody, sans some rigged matches in Rio.
Women's wrestling is growing, slowly. The spread out American population is a challenge for young females to compete regularly, but growing numbers will continue to alleviate this issue. The NCAA has yet to declare women's wrestling a sport, which is a far more serious barrier. This is the same institution that won't hold events in North Carolina, but will gladly in Cuba & China.
If people are looking for causes for detrimental social issues, wrestling is certainly nowhere near relevant. The divide and conquer attitude should be saved for MSNBC.