Every decision in wrestling should start with two questions. 1) Is this in the best interest of the kids? 2) Will this promote or hurt the sport of wrestling? obviously wrestle backs are in the best interest of the kid. I also believe that wrestle backs promote fairness and equality across the board.
There are three main variables that come into play for a kid on the way to state 1) performance 2) geographical location 3) The draw. Let's take a look at these and see how wrestle backs could help.
1) Performance: Obviously this should be the biggest variable of all but, sometimes it isn't. Here's an example....let's say a kid gets caught....legitimately caught....we have seen this from our top wrestlers in the country/world, our college stars to our Olympians, so I don't buy the comment "Don't get caught" if you've never been caught then you didn't wrestle many matches. In this instance doesn't wrestle backs seem to be the answer?
2) Geographical location: Huge impact on the road to state for any wrestler! You can have multiple ranked kids in Sectionals that feed into a Regional which gives that Regional a plethora of ranked kids and in fact causing wrestlers who deserve to go to Semi-state not to go. This obviously happens even more at the Semi-state level with loaded Regional feeders overloading a Semi-state. This is an unfortunate situation but, wouldn't it make it fairer to the wrestlers to make sure we send the very best top four by using wrestle backs?
3) Draw: We all know that performance should be the major factor but, unfortunately it is usually not. Most of the time it comes down to luck of the draw. I have seen it work both ways and have had kids get good and bad draws. Do we really want all of a kids work and sacrifice to come down to luck? Is that good for the kids? A Regional champion can draw a tougher ticket round match than someone who places third or fourth. Would wrestle backs help alleviate some of this?
We crown one state champion. We send 16 kids per weight to state. Shouldn't we as the adults be fighting to make sure we are giving our wrestlers the very best chance based on ability? Shouldn't performance be the largest factor on the road to state and not where you live or luck of the draw?
You make a fine argument, and I agree with and respect some of what you say, and an important goal should be keeping more kids engaged.
1. If is about keeping kids engaged, where do you put the time and resources then? Who determines, what is fair to accomplish that? If it's about the kids, then one could argue for a Class System, or others might say, "hey not fair, we should have a longer Freshman &
Junior-Varsity tourney season, up to say regionals". Or what about the wrestler who is stuck behind really good teammates and could possibly qualify if he transfered to some other school, does he deserve a shot at this fairness?
2. Logistically though, for semi-state could you imagine the back log if some of these locations where you now added possibly two more rounds?
You could seed SS to make attempt to have the regional with toughest 4th to match up against the easiest 1st, that could work in many cases, but then you would always have someone not happy when seedings are not objective. While this should be done to some level at the State Tourney where you could have an overview of consistency in the seeding process, it is a slippery slope when you start including 16 regionals and 4 semi-states trying to do this consistently and 'fairly'. And let's face it, you would have some collusion or some coaches looking to screw other teams or wrestlers to help their own kid.
3. Equally important are goals like creating better and more well rounded student athletes, teaching kids about setting goals and working to them, "fair-play", sportsmanship, and being part of a team. However, the sport of wrestling offers that unique aspect that no matter the draw, or opponent, the accountability is all on you, and you live with the consequences. That accountability and potential finality is what makes kids work harder, and that intensity is what makes the early matches at Sectional, Regional, Semi-State, and State important and exciting.
It's why they call a lesser skilled or experienced wrestler beating a better wrestler an UPSET,
, not an "my bad, I am better than you, but I got caught, so let's have a do-over
" . We may as well ask Jeff Blatnik give back his gold medal to Alexander Karelin.
Kids learn through success and failure, that a) life is not fair, and b) you have to be ready for each match. How many times do we read about a kid that comes back the next year and improves says "losing that xx match last year and watching my teammates really put a fire under my ass and why I am here today"?
It then seems we are more worried with picking the winners and the losers, and not letting the results on the mat decide the outcome. If so, let's hand out soccer trophy's and SQ patches to everyone then.
Is that what the sport of wrestling is about ? I thought it was about equal opportunity, not equal outcome. Other than bad officials, wrestling is about as fair a sport as you can get. Is it fair that an opponent is stronger than me, is it fair that another guy is good at takedown to my weak side? Is it fair that because my opponent won a coin flip got first choice and was able to tire me out for the 3rd period because he rode me like a rented mule? Is it fair some guys missed qualifying because they lost in 3 OT?
Motivated kids, whether they win or lose, will rise to those challenges and learn a important life lesson regardless - Life is not fair,
and most of the lessons you need to get in wrestling are because of your dedication every day in practice, the character and toughness you build, and will have nothing to do with the chance that you were some how robbed of the opportunity to participate in a regional wrestle-back.