PSU Away

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June 2, 2009 by David Gillaspie

So many friends at DGs B&B enjoy a high degree of health.  If they can’t find a workout here, a 24Hour Fitness is only a few miles away. 

An older man staying in the Wrestling Room changes from how he looked when he arrived to now.  He’s wearing two hoodies and vest above zipper-toggled snowboarder pants.  Sweat pours off his red face.  His eyes bulge.  What is he doing?

“I’m protesting.  And mourning my school.  I’m a  Portland State man and proud of it.  That school is about opportunity, starting as a college for young WWII vets.  It continues as an inspiration for perpetual dropouts to earn degrees.  I didn’t graduate from Southern Oregon.  UO couldn’t graduate me.  But I got it done at PSU.  Why?  Because of the opportunity.  I worked down the street and finished a degree with lunchtime classes and night school.  It was right there.    

“The door is open at PSU but somehow it slammed on wrestling.  It left out the tough guys in a tough sport doing it the hard way. The tough guys and the sport are still around, just not at this PSU. 

“Who keeps doing this?”

“Is it fair to blame the AD?  His bio says he’s done great things at UC Irvin and UC Santa Barbara.  He’s done great things at PSU with teams and facilities, except the part about dropped sports during his watch.  With all the good fund raising and expansion in athletics, will ‘Finished PSU Wrestling’ find its way onto his CV?  Will the university panel that voted against wrestling update their resumes with “Choked Wrestling at PSU?” 

“Academics might view every sport the same way if they never attend competitions: people trying to prove something they couldn’t prove in the classroom.  It’s similar to an outsider seeing no difference between academic departments.  Cut a sport?  It happens.  But cut one aspect of the English department and you get a strongly worded letter.  The cry rising from academic cuts has a shrill quality wrestling programs haven’t mastered yet.

“If money is the issue, and it always is, would the athletic department be driving facility upgrades and improvements?  Like a new house without water or electricity, how can facilities be more important than teams? 

“A house without water and electricity is a shack.  Cutting a sport turns an athletic department into a shelter.  You’ll have a building but no one in it.  Facilities are resume builders.  But money is not the problem here, it’s fear.  And wrestling is the most frightening of sports. 

“How many moms tell their kids to “stop wrestling in the house, you’ll break the furniture,” or “stop wrestling around, you’ll hurt each other,” or “stop wrestling and use your indoor manners.”  PSU is such an icon of refined behavior that wrestling is too rough?  Has PSU joined the ranks of Mommie U?  Yes, if the house panel making the recommendation to cut sports, the AD with the fund raising profile, and the latest PSU president, say so.

“A final thanks to Portland State athletic director Torre Chisholm for attempting to organize a club wrestling team.  Maybe he would understand the nature of wrestling if he watched a match where the loser leaves their shoes on the mat.  Then he’d know the feeling when twenty six guys leave their shoes on the mat at once.  That’s a big win for him. 

“Mr. Chisholm would understand the nature of wrestling better if his boss spent a few hundred thousand dollars remodeling his office, then fired him and said on the way out,

“”Obviously your ultimate desire is to work at the Division I level, but to compete and participate in the job you love would be of value.  There are youth leagues in the suburbs that need a volunteer director.  Good luck.””

The man in the sweats crouches and leans  from one leg to the other throwing his head.  Sweat  flings a pattern five feet each way.

“Another program gets cut and I’m wearing another hoodie.  I’ll wear as many as it takes.”


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