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Answering the Call: Girl’s Wrestling Sets the Pace

24 August 2011 3 Comments

Don’t look now, but the rule of skirts in girl’s sports might one day be replaced by battle-hardened female wrestlers. The ground swell of participation in wrestling by high school girls topped a recent survey conducted by the The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHA) in percentage increase of participation.

The number of girl wrestlers in high schools grew to 7,351 athletes, an increase of 1,217 wrestlers from the previous year (an impressive 19.8 percent increase). This made girls wrestling the fastest growing sport for high school girls in terms of percentage increase.

I’d commented in an earlier post from Mongolia that Americans have been too slow in adopting female wrestlers as their equal – probably at their own peril. When it comes to the idea of women wrestling opinions are still lagging behind interest and potential.

One of the most distressing truths about the growth of women’s wrestling was the intentional gender gerrymandering by college administrators at UC-Davis. The school fired then head coach Mike Burch in 1998 for allowing women to participate in wrestling and even earn scholarships. Had the Davis program been allowed to blossom who knows what might have sprung from their wake? As a journalist I can say with certainty that the school would have been flooded with positive press, something other school would have admired and duplicated. The number of participants at the high school level would have also increased as girls see the potential for admission to better colleges and even scholarship dollars.

For now the impetus is on the leaders in the American wrestling community to embrace the future of women’s sports and promote it heavily within schools. My hope is that some enterprising coach takes a chance at reforming the fortunes of both men’s and women’s college wrestling by creating opportunity for a women’s team. ¬†Look around the NCAA, it’s not a climate of good news, the time might be now for coaches and administrators to effect positive change.


  • Mark said:

    One of the things that I hope is that the NCAA and/or colleges start doing is to start thinking outside of the box a bit more. For instance, why not call sports where men and women train together, travel together, off season condition together, etc….a co-ed sport?

    For instance, when James Madison University cut a number of men’s and women’s sports teams from their athletic department a few years ago, there were protests. One of the most vocal protesters were the women’s track & field team when they were told that their male teammates would no longer be having a team. Their argument was that in their eyes, there was no distinction between the women and the men on the team. Sure, when they competed, their scores were only compared to other men and women from the opposing team (thus they had separate teams when it came to scoring points during track meet). However, since they train together, have technique sessions together, off season conditioning together, travel together, share the same competition schedule, ride the same bus together, and share some of the same coaches….then they were not really a “women’s track & field team” and a “men’s track and field team”. Rather, the athletes who were on the JMU track & field team saw themselves as a co-ed track and field team.

    Is this not that different than wrestling? Other than the Olympic Games, I do not see the sport as boys/girls or men/women. Rather,girls and boys are on the same teams growing up in middle and high school. They train together, use the same technique, travel together, go to the same summer camps and comps together, etc… It doesn’t matter if there is the men’s championships bracket or the women’s tournament bracket since they do so much training together.

    I see wrestling in the same way I see track & field. Any chance the NCAA/universities will see it the same way?

    If the NCAA or universities consider such sports co-educational, could that lead to the increase in more sporting options for both men and women at the college level?

  • T.R. Foley said:


    You nailed the underlying problem with the current enforcement of Title IX. The power is no longer with the interested athletes, but with the attorneys who make money by filing suit on every university they can find. Now that more are within the requirements the lawyers are moving to the high school level. It’s sad because we aren;t endorsing what the young athletes want, we are endorsing what a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats see as their golden parachute.

    Women deserve more opportunities and wrestling is proving to be the sport they choose. Will the NCAA and WSF support that desire? Or is wrestling too, ahem, barbaric?

  • headscissors said:

    It wasnt that long ago that the news was reporting about a female wanting to wrestle…now it’s very much accepted!

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