January 16, 2012 by David Gillaspie
or, Why wrestlers make the best friends.
Take a closer look at the people around you.
Can you count on them?
More important, can they count on you?
If you’re a wrestler, or a former wrestler, the answer is yes. Everyone else will find their own answer.
What makes one sport produce better friends? Let’s find out.
Track runners share the effort of long distance training, keeping the conversation up as a way of gauging their speed. If they’re too gassed to talk they need to slow down.
What do they talk about? Shoes, gear, food, the weather.
Wrestlers talk when they run, too. They cover the same topics as track stars with the addition of who’s butt they’re going to kick and when. Instead of surges and kicks, wrestlers talk about technique and sweat.
The wrestlers run before practice, or after, while track guys use running as their practice.
Years later, when one wrestler meets another, they have the same wrestling conversation. Track stars don’t have the same advantage because of the events. How much does a miler have in common with a shot-putter, or a long jumper and a discus thrower?
Football is a little closer to wrestling, except when you start talking about ‘skill position’ players. The greater difference on a football team isn’t offense and defense, it’s those who play in space and those who give and take hits on every play.
Listen in the next time a defensive lineman and a wide-out talk. They both play football, but not the same game. One gets dirty.
Wrestlers are all skill all the time when letting up means losing. They are hand wringing, foot sweeping experts as happy in the trenches as they are setting up in space.
Basketball and wrestling couldn’t be further apart. In one you get penalized for touching and holding, in the other you score points doing the same thing. Imagine the number of fouls a basketball ref would call in a wrestling match. From whistle to disqualification would be less than a minute.
What sort of friends do wrestlers make?
My best friend happened to be the best wrestler on the team. We were close in weight and worked out together. Our deal was making weight. If he didn’t make it he bumped up to my weight class and I went JV. As a senior.
Did I complain? Not then, and not now. I just made sure I worked him as hard as I could so he’d make weight. Stay later in the practice room. Run an extra mile. Avoid places with too much good food. I wanted him to make weight the most when we wrestled schools that beat us in football. Some of the players thought of themselves as wrestlers and figured they’d get the same results on the mat that they got on the football field.
There’s nothing quite like squeezing the guts of a running back who rolled up a hundred yards, then comes out on the mat with that attitude.
My best friend as a wrestling dad has a house full of wrestlers with one still going strong. He’s as true-blue to the sport as your average Iowan, mainly because he’s from Iowa. He knows more about wrestling community than anyone. Where he comes from every match is an event.
The wrestling bond of adults isn’t the same as kids. The score isn’t always what shows on the board. It’s more about keeping things on an even keel and avoid being ‘That Dad.’ He was a leader and a do-er, a former wrestler who knows what it takes to be a winner.
Sometimes things happen that change a friendship. You cross the line. You say the wrong thing. Then you don’t know how to man-up and make the friendship right. How do two guys with wrestlers find a way to bury the hatchet?
My high school pal and I used to take it to the mat, or the backyard. Once we wrestled in his living room and broke more furniture than his wife was happy with. Since then we’ve learned to use our words better.
What about wrestling dad friend? I did the only thing a wrestler should do and found a wrestling coach to ask about repairing friendship. Here’s what he said:
“If the friendship matters enough, apologize for anything you might have said or done to ruin it. Without getting into the details of dispute, ask for a reset. Be man enough to say you’re sorry if the friendship is important to you. Do it with kindness and let the other person know you are sincere.
“In wrestling, as in life, there are three ways to deal with problems that need a crucial conversation. Avoid it, do it badly, or do it well. If you’re not happy with the way things are, do something about it. If nothing comes from the conversation, at least you moved the needle.”
That’s advice you don’t find everywhere. That’s wrestling talk.