Wrestling Father’s Day In Repose

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June 21, 2010 by David Gillaspie


To all wrestler’s: Give your old man thanks.

To all wrestlers’ fathers: Give your kid thanks, but wait until tomorrow.  Today it’s all about you.

Why is Father’s Day better for Wrestling Dads?  Because they know their sons and daughters, regardless of titles and records, have gone where others fear to tread.

Instead of honking the sports horn today, instead of blowing a vuvuzela for kick-ball or clapping thunder sticks for b-ball, instead of sloshing frosties for baseball or football, consider the wrestling elements.

You’ve done your best to prep your kid for high school wrestling by helping them understand the competitive nature as you understand it yourself.  In other words you’ve given flawed advice.  From now on your child will question all advice from everyone else.

This is a good thing when you reflect on how long it took you to refuse bad advice without hurting anyone’s feelings.  Your kid has a jump-start on that process.

What if you’ve kept your kid away from wrestling until high school?  Maybe you did it to keep your kid away from the sort of bad habits you’ve seen in the local little guy wrestling room where the volunteer ‘coaches’ seem more interested in hustling single moms than showing the right stuff.

You made the right call.

Maybe you put your kid in sports that gradually increased in competitiveness so they don’t get lost in the cut.  An early sense of failure can have lasting consequences.  It can be confusing to a child when they discover they aren’t the best on a team after they’ve been the best in their own backyard.

Turn up the heat slowly, you don’t want to scorch the future.

What do you do when your kid hits high school and you discover the head coach knows how to add and subtract and spell, but cannot lead?  The guy can fill out cards and run a scale, but can’t unlock potential. 

To wrestle, or not to wrestle?  That is the question.  It might be for some, but not for Wrestling Dad.  For him it’s ‘to wrestle’ every time even if young Shakespeare hesitates.  How do you get over that hurdle?  Try this:

“Son, the opponent on the mat is the last thing you have to worry about, but the only one recorded in the score book.  Sometimes you have to fight everything else just to get there.  If your school doesn’t have a wrestling tradition, you have to build one.  If the athletic department is run by track people, learn to run.  Running and wrestling go hand and foot together.

“If the athletic director is a golf person like UO’s Senior Associate Athletic Director/Women’s Administrator Renee Baumgartner then the challenges increase.  Either you like sports, or you don’t, and it seems odd that a university level member of an athletic department would dump any sport.  All that says is you don’t really like sports, but a job is a job.

“Wrestling is not a job because you never get equal pay for equal effort.  If equal pay for equal effort were an economic rule then a logger would be the richest man in the world and wrestling would pull Super Bowl numbers.  But they don’t.

“Instead, focus on the sport.  Do you want a chance to wring out someone with a poor attitude?  Wrestling gives that chance.  Do you want to lay hands on an a pretty boy with ideas of entitlement who thinks they should win for just showing up?  How about the kid whose parents hire a film crew to document their little wonder’s dominance?  Go get him.” 

From the first season to the last, Wrestling Dads give direction.  They know how to respond to the coach who says “I blame you for your son’s failure on the mat’ when the coach’s own kids won’t step near the wrestling room.  They know what to say when another team parent says “Your son pins his opponents too fast.”

Most of all Wrestling Dads know the importance of making weight and being on time.  That’s asking twice as much than any other sport on the schedule asks for.

(A former women’s wrestler worked at a home for disturbed youth.  One of the residents went off on a counselor leaving scratches, bites, and bruises that he showed the wrestler.  The next time the big kid went off, the small women’s wrestler was on duty.  Instead of absorbing the treatment the other counselor got, she took him down and barred his arms until he calmed down.) 

Where does a young woman learn that?


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