Folkstyle is the USA Part Duex by Richard Rockwell OWF Op-Ed
Yesterday, we talked about why Folkstyle is the USA and reasons to not drop the style and switch to freestyle. We left off at reasons why we aren't getting the best athletes out for our sport, in the first place.
Today we will touch on the myth that is "we will be instantly be #1 in the world if we make the switch."
First off, I'd like to have the ability to just stop doing one thing and start doing another and then be instantly #1 in the world at it. As absurd as that last sentence sounds, thats how absurd idea really is. Wrestlers and kids in general, have the attention span of a fruit fly. There are so many other things going on, they can lose focus in an instant. Wrestlers and kids in general, have the attention span of a fruit fly. There are so many...wait what?
Anyways, when people talk about how good we would be if we make the switch to freestyle only, I always think of a story I was told by a friend of mine about ex-Portland State wrestler, Dan Russell. The same Dan Russell, who pinned Pat Smith. You know 4X NCAA Champ Pat Smith, of Oklahoma State. Now, forgive me Dan, if I get part of the story incorrect, but it goes like this. Dan was working out for an international event(I believe the World Cup) and Dan was quite the jump roper, when it came to cutting weight. So Dan is jumping rope and he sees these two young Russians working on I believe, an over hook throw. Over and over, these Russians work the throw again and again. Dan checks his weight after an hour or so, comes back to jumping rope and here are these Russians, working on this same overhook throw. In what possibly could've been 4hrs or longer, these Russians worked on one move. Every different position in this one move, every scenario. Now apply that same concept to a practice in America. Not just wrestling, but any sport. Wouldn't work. Americans simply aren't wired that way, especially youth. We'd have to completely unlearn everything we know about wrestling and that just won't happen.
Another advantage countries like Russia have, is sports schools. Schools where all they pretty much do is, the education of a single sport. I'm told, what they do is, figure out what sport you will be best at and by a certain age, that's sport you will do the rest of your athletic days. Much like a factory, they are building athletes. Again, apply that concept in the US, where everyone is required to attend educational school and see how well that flies. These countries simply don't live by the same rules as the USA. So to become "instantly #1 in the world" isn't nearly as simple as one thinks.
Now let's talk about the work involved with folkstyle. I recently read how the amount of work we have to put into folkstyle, doesn't compare to freestyle. That in fact, freestyle is much easier. These are things being said by coaches in favor of a switch. In folkstyle, we thrive off of the hard work we put into it. As coaches, we constantly talk about how hard you have to work to succeed. Its that whole Iowa style mentality, that we hear so much about. We get up and run, train, maintain a diet, train some more, run some more, and punish ourselves to the brink. That's one of the best qualities that we learn in folkstyle. I tell kids all the time, as much as I want them to win, what I want them to come away from this sport is learning how to work hard towards their goals. If what people say is true, that in fact freestyle is easier on us, why would we as a sport or a country, want that? You would be essentially taking out one of the best qualities of the sport and then throwing it to the side. You'd be in fact, making our sport un-American. No more Training like a Madman, I guess.
Next we up we have officiating. I've coached for 21yrs now and have traveled the country numerous times as a National Team coach in both folkstyle and FR/GR and I can say without a doubt, officiating/rules in folkstyle are far superior than freestyle officiating/rules. So much so that several years ago, Tom Brands said, there are no better rules than in folkstyle wrestling(or something like that). This past season, we say a new stalling rule in place at the college level, that dealt with wrestling out of bounds. It was new and sometimes made no sense when applied and sometimes it did. It was receptive to some and some simply hate it. Those that hated it, spent all season, cherry picking data to prove their point. But of course, those that hate it, come back to the same sorry change that will somehow save wrestling, the pushout point or as I call it, the sumo shove point. If there was ever a rule that is as un-American, its the shove point. Scoring without really doing anything.
When the sumo shove point was put into place, kids were allowed to score and win matches by simply shoving their opponent out of bounds. Having watched it first hand, I can't imagine a dumber rule. Well, except for somehow winning with a tie score, but I'll get to that. Now the rule, has changed. Supposedly you can't just shove them out and score anymore, but like the new college rule for stalling, that's simply not true. We still see the E.Honda attempts during matches. This is not wrestling folks. In fact, what we are starting to see is, unfinished technique on the edge, in hopes of scoring the shove point over a solid takedown. Could you imagine in football or basketball, awarding points for going out of bounds and just how dumb that is? Yet, we've made it technique in wrestling. It is such, that we have to spend time in practice showing a kid how to shove and watch the edge like a tight rope in the circus, rather than spend time on perfecting our offense.
And I'll touch on this real quick, somehow winning with a tie score. What kind of hogwash is this? Winning with a tie? How is that even humanly possible? You're tied and you win. Whats the saying "a tie is like kissing your sister." But in freestyle/greco wrestling you get to brag about kissing your sister. I'm old enough to remember the dreaded two team points awarded in duals, for tieing your opponent. Now try and explain the tie rules to an outsider. The most common reaction I've heard is "well that's dumb. Why not just settle it in OT?" Its the same reason why I hate regular season soccer. Ending on a tie is acceptable, and the competitor in me, can not fathom ending anything on a tie. Sorry but there can be only One!
Now, I know some smart alleck will say, "but guys like Kyle Snyder won on a tie. Are you putting their efforts down? Will you say that to his face?" Winning still requires effort, technique, will, and hardwork, but IMO, it was much more exciting watching Kyle win his NCAA title in OT, than winning his World title on tie score. He won within the rules that we allowed to be created. He did what he needed to do to win and I commend him for that, but it doesn't mean we should have to agree with the rules.
I'll end Part Duex here for now, but don't worry refs, I've just touched the tip of the iceberg on just how much I hate freestyle officiating and why you should too.