The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Klingman: Are we giving back to what wrestling gives us?
By Kyle Klingman
Wrestling faces many demands.
Wrestling programs are being dropped and we want it stopped. We want more support from college administrations and we want more support from fans.
We want more wrestling on television. We want more respect from the mainstream media. We want more people to attend wrestling meets.
We want more medals at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. We want wrestling to be more entertaining. We want international rules that make sense.
We would also like for the divide between youth wrestling, college wrestling, and international wrestling to disappear. And, ultimately, want more opportunities for wrestling at all levels.
Yes, we ask much out of wrestling, but what does wrestling ask of us?
Wrestling begins with a stance and there are times, usually under duress, when we are asked to take one. If your foundation is not solid, if you have not developed fundamentals, your stance will be broken.
Wrestling asks us to develop our own style and to succeed with it.
Wrestling asks us to stay in the center of the mat, to fight hard, to look for openings. When we do go out of bounds, as each of us is likely to do, it asks us to come back to the center and restart.
At some point, wrestling will ask us to face an opponent bigger than ourselves, but, in the face of that, we must ask: Is it worth it? Can I keep going? Can I rise above?
Wrestling asks us to scramble out of compromising situations.
Wrestling asks us to be independent but to work within a system. It asks us to maintain good position, and to reverse our position if we get taken off our feet.
Wrestling asks much of those with little talent. Wrestling demands unthinkable effort. To carry on under hardship, without reward or recognition, develops an unbreakable spirit.
Wrestling asks us to endure. It asks us to overcome. It asks us not to quit. It asks us to continue after a loss.
Wrestling asks us to not be glutinous and to manage our weight.
Wrestling asks us to develop a unique set of skills, to act and to react. The wrong action or reaction can lead to a loss of position.
Wrestling asks us to stand up and escape when we are being driven into the mat.
Wrestling asks us to honor the craft, to respect a timeless tradition, to know our heritage.
Equally important are the things wrestling doesn’t ask. It doesn’t ask us to be any particular size or height or stature or, in recent times, gender. Status holds little weight in a sport based on pounds.
Wrestling doesn’t ask us to have arms or legs either. Blind. Deaf. Physical defects. Mental handicaps. Deformities. Everyone is welcome.
Wrestling is about inclusion.
And although wrestling will never ask us to conform, it will ask for a commitment. It asks us to keep each other sharp, to make each other better. A natural bond is formed through mutual struggle.
Wrestling asks the most of us, but, in return, it gives the most too.