May 16, 2010 by David Gillaspie
One of the best things about wrestling is the winner usually gets worked as bad as the loser. Not so much in basketball. Then along comes Steve Nash. His eye is one of the first nasty shiners on the huge stage of the NBA playoffs.
He shows how to get past the temporary handicap in championship form: Six stitches, tape it, play through. The NBA doesn’t have a clock on blood time, but they get the guy off the floor until he gets his seepage stanched.
The NBA doesn’t have a dental clock either or it would have been running when A.C. Green, the association’s Ironman, took a chop to his grill and spit his chicklets out on the court. Very strong-willed player, in more than one way. You can’t play 1192 games straight with his unique focus without exceptional will.
A friend said watching LeBron chewing on his mouth guard was a weak move, that he wouldn’t even wear a mouth guard if he was more committed to the game instead of his image. I said yes, he could be more like hockey players with their gapped grins.
If you do take an elbow or a crossface, at least do it in the context of the game. Noh Alam Shah of Arema Indonesia, a soccer player, executed the seldom used crotch grope on an opponent. He took a sharp enough revenge move to bloody his face.
If he knew how to wrestle he would have avoided getting whacked. I’d like to see a soccer game where one guy cowtails another and runs him around the pitch. It might make it a better game until he gets ejected.
Movie blood never looks real enough, but it did in Rocky. There the Italian Stallion sat, eyes swollen shut, his corner man ready to toss in the towel. Remember Rocky’s immortal words?
Say it together, “CUT ME MICK.”
That’s what I yelled for Steve Nash when his eye closed. The only difference was Nash picked his game up with one eye. How do you play basketball with two-dimensional vision? Maybe it’s a Canadian thing.
Vision is most important in sports, not so for wrestling. Do blind people play golf? Tennis? Ping pong? Any ball games? If they do is it more an exhibition than competition?
Blind wrestlers do just fine. As long as they keep contact, and the ref makes sure of that, they can wrestle with feel. Try it some time. Close your eyes in practice and hit a fireman’s carry or a head and arm. You can feel balance and leverage. You don’t need to see where the other guy lands.
Vision is important in guiding sports through bumpy times. You want to avoid as many potholes as possible. No one wants a broken axle on their sport that slows down the forward momentum, and all sports have forward momentum or we’d never hear about them.
Remember, competition doesn’t always define an activity as a sport. Is elk calling a sport? Is bird hunting or fishing? Where’s the possibility of someone getting their bell rung in any of those? No one in their right mind calls an elk without back-up; the biggest risk of bird hunting is a partner mistaking you for a quail and blasting you; the fisherman might get seasick, or hook himself. No one participates in those activities with a trainer near by.
Visionaries took pro football from a season where cement layers (Chuck Bednarik) played but kept their real jobs, to the top of sports entertainment. At the same time anti-visionaries are killing boxing. Amateur wrestling falls somewhere in between.
Is there a visionary for wrestling? Someone who can see the similarities in dropped programs and act on it? Someone who can see the reason for anti-wrestling bias and counter it?
Last week Dan Patrick mentioned wrestling on his radio show. He and The Danettes had fun talking about the typical wrestling room, the sweat, the skin to skin contact, and finally the singlet. The uniform was the problem. Not enough uniform in the sport for their taste.
You’ve heard that one before; too revealing. Now stop laughing. Dan Patrick and his Danettes don’t know you wear the tightest rig you can find under the singlet so you don’t get your junk crushed when you get cowtailed on the mat. I like Dan Patrick. He’s a great sports guy. He’s funny when he talks about his hair. But he’s from Ohio. He’s not doing the Buckeye state right with his wrestling takes.
He’s not the visionary for the sport, but it might be someone with a built-in audience. Who’s it going to be?