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Galagore

An idea to help grow the sport

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One thing that has always struck me as counter-productive is bracketed tournaments at the youth and middle school levels. The best wrestlers get to wrestle the most matches, and the kids who are still learning/struggling get a couple and are done. Wouldn't it be better for the health of the sport to run all of these youth and middle school tournaments round-robin style? That way everyone gets a good amount of mat time, and the kids who are (currently) the weakest get a chance at a competitive match against each other. I suppose wrestling 8-man brackets to 8 places could accomplish the same thing. Nothing feeds the fire quite like some success and feeling good about at least one match you've wrestled during the day - even if it's one you don't actually win.

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Many of the tourneys we now go to do it that way mind you they are smaller.   That and friendly duals with other clubs in the wrestling room and elementary school duals is where I think it is at now.  At least for me as a coach it is more enjoyable.  

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I think getting matches is key as well.  But when you wrestle that 6 man round robin you will also have some kid get beat 5 times in a day and that is tough for a kid as well.  I think in the youth aspect anything over 4 should be a bracket and you get your less stressful matches in your "friendship" meets.

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Not all of us live in areas that have many friendship meets. And I say if there are more than five kids, split into two groups. Why is bracketing important for the youth?

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I know that there are some youth tournaments in Ohio that are ran according to level.  They will run "beginners" from 9 until noon and then run others noon until 3 .  They also round robin the kids so everyone gets 4-6 matches and you are outta there in about 3 or 4 hours.

 

 

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Step son wrestles in Ohio and our tournaments have been mixed. First one was bracketed into 8 and 16 man brackets with double elimination. Others have been round robin which he won his class. We have also had dual tournaments for the team as well. Those are really fun to watch and kids love representing their clubs/schools. My cousin's two boys wrestled in Indiana and did the Rivals League Nights, where they are separated into age groups (PreK & K/ 1st & 2nd/ 3rd & 4th/ 5th & 6th) as well as weight as close as possible. Parents match the kids up and they wrestle on a quarter of the mat just to get experience. Next season I will get the step son and  one of my step daughters USA cards so they can participate in the Rivals League Nights as well as their Ohio tournaments when they are with us.

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3 hours ago, Galagore said:

Not all of us live in areas that have many friendship meets. And I say if there are more than five kids, split into two groups. Why is bracketing important for the youth?

Now this I am 100% okay with.  Splitting according to experience and doing a round robin.

My daughters wrestled in the girls state this weekend and she had a bracket of 6 and did a round robin.  My argument in this case is if you have a bracket a kid goes 0-3 and gets 6th I think its an easier sell to get to keep them back out but when you go 0-5 over the course of a 9 hour time span it is a hard sell to bring them back!!!

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26 minutes ago, bsisson said:

Now this I am 100% okay with.  Splitting according to experience and doing a round robin.

My daughters wrestled in the girls state this weekend and she had a bracket of 6 and did a round robin.  My argument in this case is if you have a bracket a kid goes 0-3 and gets 6th I think its an easier sell to get to keep them back out but when you go 0-5 over the course of a 9 hour time span it is a hard sell to bring them back!!!

Let dem girls know that state champ Carson Brewer and state runner up Ray Rioux went years without winning matches. Both got skunked their first year.

I had tickets to a Colts AFC title game and skipped it to go see Carson get pinned two times in less than a minute total. 

Here my point. Don’t make it about winning and losing. Make it about a day with your family and hopefully a day of making friends.

Going back to the day may son got beat (the day if they AFC title game). It was at Columbus. One of the kids that beat him was a dude from Jeffersonville with giant feet and a million dollar smile. His name was Kameron Fuller. He and my son wrestled with and against each other for many years. I consider Kam and his mom good family friends. The day wasn’t about getting skunked or missing a Colts game. It’s about good family time, making friends, and gettin em next time! 

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42 minutes ago, bsisson said:

Now this I am 100% okay with.  Splitting according to experience and doing a round robin.

My daughters wrestled in the girls state this weekend and she had a bracket of 6 and did a round robin.  My argument in this case is if you have a bracket a kid goes 0-3 and gets 6th I think its an easier sell to get to keep them back out but when you go 0-5 over the course of a 9 hour time span it is a hard sell to bring them back!!!

Yes, you are correct. One of the great things about round robin is the day usually goes more quickly because you can determine when and where everyone will wrestle way in advance. We wrestled round robin/USA mat time at Penn this year. My older son got in 9 matches and we were at BWs eating lunch by 1:30.

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12 minutes ago, Mattyb said:

Here my point. Don’t make it about winning and losing. Make it about a day with your family and hopefully a day of making friends.

 

This right here. I think a lot of people are getting caught up in notion, that they have to be competing at age 4 and competing all the time sometimes two tournaments a weekend, to be a good wrestler later. The tournaments should be about the experience at youngs, from 4 up to say around 10-12. Take them to a few meets, let them hang out with teammates and build a bond early with each other. Even if they lose both matches right off the bat, let them hang out and cheer on their teammates for a little longer.

Once they start approaching middle school age level, if you ask them if they're ready to step up and they are, then let them start cranking out tournaments left and right. You don't want to burn them out before they even get there though. Make it fun for the little guys and quit worrying about getting them 40+ matches. How many guys have we seen recently have very little experience prior to HS and still doing well at IHSAA State Finals?

Let them be kids and gauge their mental capabilities on how much they can handle once they start getting into the middle school age.

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One of the biggest issues in wrestling is retention of athletes. 

Based on USAW statistics the retention rate in 2017 for Indiana was 53%. That means every year even we bring in 47% new wrestlers...at the same time we are losing that many. Indiana is actually doing well compared to the other states, but in most people's minds it is something that could use a vast improvement.

Indiana has 8,000 USAW members and every year almost 4,000 of them are new! Think if we kept 75% and then still added 4,000 new members! 

You can view the stats on page 15
http://content.themat.com/2016-17annualreport.pdf

Retaining kids...and parents is something that will grow the sport. There are many reasons kids/parents don't come back, one big one is the tournaments.

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Y2CJ41 said:

One of the biggest issues in wrestling is retention.......

Retaining kids...and parents is something that will grow the sport. There are many reasons kids/parents don't come back, one big one is the tournaments.

Wouldn’t mind seeing the retention numbers per age group for our state?  As well as, how many are first year card holders vs. how many were multi-year card holders?  I’m sure we know some reasons (other sports, burn out, etc...) which are a major reason we are not retaining some kids, but having some additional data as to what age groups this is occuring them most in could help better market to those wrestlers, that age group, and also their parents.  

Edited by MattM

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1 hour ago, Y2CJ41 said:

One of the biggest issues in wrestling is retention of athletes. 

Based on USAW statistics the retention rate in 2017 for Indiana was 53%. That means every year even we bring in 47% new wrestlers...at the same time we are losing that many. Indiana is actually doing well compared to the other states, but in most people's minds it is something that could use a vast improvement.

Indiana has 8,000 USAW members and every year almost 4,000 of them are new! Think if we kept 75% and then still added 4,000 new members! 

You can view the stats on page 15
http://content.themat.com/2016-17annualreport.pdf

Retaining kids...and parents is something that will grow the sport. There are many reasons kids/parents don't come back, one big one is the tournaments.

My opinion is that the parents play the biggest part. You have the parents who are going for gold burning their kids out. Then you have the parents who are in the "wussification" of their children meaning they believe their kid is going to get hurt. You also have the selfish parents who don't want to travel or sit in the gym for an hour, let alone 3 or more. They're glued to their phones more than watching their kids. Then you have the "stigma" parents who think the sport is just vulgar and boys shouldn't wrestle girls, and all the other nonsense. Lastly, you have the good parents who do things the right way. If it was mostly up to the kids, they'd more than likely keep wrestling. 

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54 minutes ago, casualwrestlingfan said:

My opinion is that the parents play the biggest part. You have the parents who are going for gold burning their kids out. Then you have the parents who are in the "wussification" of their children meaning they believe their kid is going to get hurt. You also have the selfish parents who don't want to travel or sit in the gym for an hour, let alone 3 or more. They're glued to their phones more than watching their kids. Then you have the "stigma" parents who think the sport is just vulgar and boys shouldn't wrestle girls, and all the other nonsense. Lastly, you have the good parents who do things the right way. If it was mostly up to the kids, they'd more than likely keep wrestling. 

A major part of it is parents and the events. Name another sport where a kid will get 5 minutes of "playing time" over 3-8 hours? The way we have always done it can't be an excuse to change the format of our events. I know we have a lot of success with the weeknight events where another club comes and they match up on the fly. 

We have to sell the sport to not only the kids, but also the parents or they'll find something else for their kid to do.

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1 hour ago, casualwrestlingfan said:

My opinion is that the parents play the biggest part. You have the parents who are going for gold burning their kids out. Then you have the parents who are in the "wussification" of their children meaning they believe their kid is going to get hurt. You also have the selfish parents who don't want to travel or sit in the gym for an hour, let alone 3 or more. They're glued to their phones more than watching their kids. Then you have the "stigma" parents who think the sport is just vulgar and boys shouldn't wrestle girls, and all the other nonsense. Lastly, you have the good parents who do things the right way. If it was mostly up to the kids, they'd more than likely keep wrestling. 

Speaking of going for gold...how many times was security called to a certain mat this weekend?  I was there Saturday and Sunday and heard it at least 3 or 4 times each day.  I don't remember that happening at all last year. 

I think there are a lot of factors in why kids/parents don't stay in the sport.  So far, everyone has made valid points.  I'm not sure on the solution though.

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10 minutes ago, Y2CJ41 said:

A major part of it is parents and the events. Name another sport where a kid will get 5 minutes of "playing time" over 3-8 hours? The way we have always done it can't be an excuse to change the format of our events. I know we have a lot of success with the weeknight events where another club comes and they match up on the fly. 

We have to sell the sport to not only the kids, but also the parents or they'll find something else for their kid to do.

Those types of friendly duals are fun and they can get a few matches in over a couple hours.

We make teams at our club and wrestle intrasquad duals. Those are fun. We just have duals instead of club practices a handful of nights per season. Kinda hard tho if your club is not big. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, casualwrestlingfan said:

My opinion is that the parents play the biggest part. You have the parents who are going for gold burning their kids out. Then you have the parents who are in the "wussification" of their children meaning they believe their kid is going to get hurt. You also have the selfish parents who don't want to travel or sit in the gym for an hour, let alone 3 or more. They're glued to their phones more than watching their kids. Then you have the "stigma" parents who think the sport is just vulgar and boys shouldn't wrestle girls, and all the other nonsense. Lastly, you have the good parents who do things the right way. If it was mostly up to the kids, they'd more than likely keep wrestling. 

I agree....kind of.  I was the parent represented in the bold/italicized/underlines sentence above when I was asked by a friend/parent that they thought my kid might enjoy/be good at it.  Once I was in though (and my wife as well) we were HOOKED.  The benefits of the sport have more to do with the intangibles (future success) off the mat that they do with winning on the mat.

32 minutes ago, Y2CJ41 said:

A major part of it is parents and the events. Name another sport where a kid will get 5 minutes of "playing time" over 3-8 hours? The way we have always done it can't be an excuse to change the format of our events. I know we have a lot of success with the weeknight events where another club comes and they match up on the fly. 

We have to sell the sport to not only the kids, but also the parents or they'll find something else for their kid to do.

Y2:

Gymnastics and swimming are the other sports.  My belief is that the key is to get parents involved by selling the long term benefits of the sport (re: above) prior to entry.  While there aren't EVEN CLOSE TO THE ELITE monetary success stories of these three sports as there is to the big three (basketball, football, baseball), the intrinsic benefits of involvement are not to be doubted.  There just aren't a lot of "other than" high quality humans in this world who either wrestled, swam or tumbled.

IMHO

Edited by backtothemat

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7 hours ago, Mattyb said:

Here my point. Don’t make it about winning and losing. Make it about a day with your family and hopefully a day of making friends. 

I, as a head coach, totally understand this. I preach effort more than wins and loses to both of my girls.  My oldest went 0-2 got 2nd her first year, went 2-0 last year and won and went 3-2 and got 3rd this year experiencing her first real set back that we all know won't stop coming.  My youngest went 1-2 this year and placed third. And both got the annual dipping dots at the end.

But like others have noted parents are a driving factor.  I love the sport of wrestling and I was even frustrated having my daughters first bout #2 and second at #70, yes you read that right a 68 match break.

Kids at a young age understand having success and not.  And getting beat 5 times in a day is going effect most kids even if they have supportive parents.  

I run our youth program as well I think there is a fine line between attending events to get your feet wet and going to too many before your ready.  We loved our friendship meets this year and it allows all of your kids to support each other. 

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It is difficult to run a youth club the right way.  After 20 years I am still trying to totally dial it in.  I am closer now but it just takes so much time and you need the right parents and coaches.  In my opinion you need at least 6 practices a week and a club to be broken up once it gets big enough.  K-2nd beginner practices twice a week for an hour.  3rd - 5th beginner to intermediate twice a week for an hour.  Then 2 practices a week for your tourney kids that want to take it to the next level.  Those tourney kids can also come to the other practices because they will be a little more fun and still teach fundamentals.  You just have to be the one that matches them up so they aren't throttling some new kids and they make them want to quit.   

Now you can have a smaller club and work them harder and focus more on competition but you will lose a bunch of kids that could turn the corner before they are ever able to. I have coached those clubs before and they are fun but I don't think it helps grow the sport much.

Friendly duals are awesome for those beginners and some beginner tournaments are nice with round robin formats to get the kids used to it.  I always tell my kids the goal is for you to learn fundamentals, to wrestle in middle school, and eventually wrestle in high school.  Those programs can weed kids out that really aren't going to take it serious or maybe the sport just isn't meant for them.  Until then we just need to focus on growing it.  I have had quite few kids try to go to tournaments too soon and never come back to practice because they got throttled by some kid that thinks they are wrestling for a state title at the ripe old age of 8 and already has 100+ matches under their belt.

I like the idea of beginner state.  Definitely would need to be held on a different weekend since many of the same club coaches would be going.  I say we have it in Fort Wayne since we are the ones that are really in need of getting things growing.

Y2 that is a really interesting stat for USA wrestling only have about 50% retention.  I will run that against my club for the last 3 years and see where I land.

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47 minutes ago, bsisson said:

I, as a head coach, totally understand this. I preach effort more than wins and loses to both of my girls.  My oldest went 0-2 got 2nd her first year, went 2-0 last year and won and went 3-2 and got 3rd this year experiencing her first real set back that we all know won't stop coming.  My youngest went 1-2 this year and placed third. And both got the annual dipping dots at the end.

But like others have noted parents are a driving factor.  I love the sport of wrestling and I was even frustrated having my daughters first bout #2 and second at #70, yes you read that right a 68 match break.

Kids at a young age understand having success and not.  And getting beat 5 times in a day is going effect most kids even if they have supportive parents.  

I run our youth program as well I think there is a fine line between attending events to get your feet wet and going to too many before your ready.  We loved our friendship meets this year and it allows all of your kids to support each other. 

Yep, a 68 match break is about 6 hours. The ladies at the Iswa don’t typically allow this to happen. Sorry to here about that. State is just so big that stuff like this happens, but is not the norm. They also move matches and go even and odds on two mats to help finish things up faster. 

I will ask you this... aren’t we all glad that we are getting all folkstyle state in one weekend now instead of two? Saving lots of people money. Due to the fact that people don’t have to come to Indy two weekends in a row anymore. 

State is what it is. I really trust that we have the best people running our state tourney as anyone could ever ask for. I really don’t think your experience is typical, but it did happen and that stinks. 

As far as losing 5 times in a day, give it a go.... if your wrestler is struggling and you think it will hurt them mentally or physically, let the powers to be know and call it a day. Anybody that actually cares about the kids will completely understand. It’s ok. Just encourage that child to continue to come to club, do locals, and do friendly meets. Maybe the next year they will be better prepared for state. If you feel that they aren’t ready for another long day at state, tell em to stay home and keep working to get to that state level. Me personally have told several people not to go to state (for multiple reasons). 

You have provided great insight also coach. Threads like this help us all. Thanks! 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Mattyb said:

Yep, a 68 match break is about 6 hours. The ladies at the Iswa don’t typically allow this to happen. Sorry to here about that. State is just so big that stuff like this happens, but is not the norm. They also move matches and go even and odds on two mats to help finish things up faster. 

I will ask you this... aren’t we all glad that we are getting all folkstyle state in one weekend now instead of two? Saving lots of people money. Due to the fact that people don’t have to come to Indy two weekends in a row anymore. 

Yeah the girls Tournament has really grown and the ISWA is trying their best.  The first year we went it was all on 1 mat I believe and we didn't start in the morning with the rest.  Last year we started on one and eventually went to two.  This year we started on two.  It has really out grown 2 mats as well.  I do appreciate their effort to keep it in the main fieldhouse where everyone is.  I also don't want to see it moved to a separate weekend either but the extra 150 wrestlers, hopefully more next year, is really causing a strain on mat space. 

The long weekends of Folkstyle state are nothing new and honestly I am okay with them being longer and it should be expected. I will say that most of the youth Sunday tournaments I went to had between 250-350 and were out by latest 2pm most times.  We all know this is a tremendous improvement from the freestyle tournaments of the 90s.

In terms of sending my youth wrestlers to tournaments I weigh on the side of caution most of the time. My assistant coach, Brian Foxworthy, has a great quote. "Winning is a habit but so is losing" if you can't find a kid success at any level it will drive them away. We host our own tournament were all of our kids get their feet wet and even then I have watched kids get beat twice and never come back to another practice even after a positive pep talk.  We have all seen the super star youngsters that fizzle out.  The ones I want to keep out are the kids that lose some and keep coming back as their skills will eventually catch up to their effort and is a fine line to walk of getting them beat too much.  

Edited by bsisson

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Posted (edited)

This topic is near and dear to me as I'm relatively new to the sport, have now been in two different states, and I have a kid that wants to be great but is by no means there yet...but is mature enough and old enough when he started to know the process (although he still does get down on himself).  

But damn if so many don't take it too seriously, and others not seriously enough.  And they go together...especially when it comes to growing the sport.

First and foremost, if you are running a tournament...AT ALL COSTS START THE DAMN TOURNAMENT ON TIME!!  As we all know, there's nothing more frustrating than travelling 1-2 hours at the butt-crack of dawn to get to a weigh-in at 7:30 for a "Wrestling will start at 9am SHARP" to which the wrestling actually starts about 10:15 if you're lucky. 

Which leads me to my next point, which is the whole business of weight management and making weight and cutting.  Why are their weight classes for individual tournaments at the elementary level?  Except for maybe truly "elite" tournaments like state?  Group kids into 8 man brackets or round robin by experience and let them get mat time.  I love taking my kid to go wrestle good competition, but like Mr. Brewer said it's a little like "man, what am I doing?" when you make this effort for your kid to lose 3-1 to the eventual champ in the opening round then run into another hammer that finishes 2nd or 3rd the next round.  Yes, it was good he was "close" to the guys that finished strong...but also a bit frustrating to make that much effort into 2 matches for a tournament that started way late.  

And it's not about my kid "winning" bur rather just making it worth it.  I'm the first to tell my son "If you don't like losing, get your ass in the gym and work harder".  But I also would like to see a value in driving all over and getting my son more mat time (which is why we all love duals). 

I can see how some parents that aren't so into it can say "to hell with this" and disencourage their kid to continue with the sport.  I just think the target customer needs to be identified and someone needs to take the lead on making the sport more enjoyable all the way around to everyone, not just the die-hards.  Very interesting convo!

Edited by Kookie953
typo

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4 hours ago, Kookie953 said:

This topic is near and dear to me as I'm relatively new to the sport, have now been in two different states, and I have a kid that wants to be great but is by no means there yet...but is mature enough and old enough when he started to know the process (although he still does get down on himself).  

But damn if so many don't take it too seriously, and others not seriously enough.  And they go together...especially when it comes to growing the sport.

First and foremost, if you are running a tournament...AT ALL COSTS START THE DAMN TOURNAMENT ON TIME!!  As we all know, there's nothing more frustrating than travelling 1-2 hours at the butt-crack of dawn to get to a weigh-in at 7:30 for a "Wrestling will start at 9am SHARP" to which the wrestling actually starts about 10:15 if you're lucky. 

Which leads me to my next point, which is the whole business of weight management and making weight and cutting.  Why are their weight classes for individual tournaments at the elementary level?  Except for maybe truly "elite" tournaments like state?  Group kids into 8 man brackets or round robin by experience and let them get mat time.  I love taking my kid to go wrestle good competition, but like Mr. Brewer said it's a little like "man, what am I doing?" when you make this effort for your kid to lose 3-1 to the eventual champ in the opening round then run into another hammer that finishes 2nd or 3rd the next round.  Yes, it was good he was "close" to the guys that finished strong...but also a bit frustrating to make that much effort into 2 matches for a tournament that started way late.  

And it's not about my kid "winning" bur rather just making it worth it.  I'm the first to tell my son "If you don't like losing, get your ass in the gym and work harder".  But I also would like to see a value in driving all over and getting my son more mat time (which is why we all love duals). 

I can see how some parents that aren't so into it can say "to hell with this" and disencourage their kid to continue with the sport.  I just think the target customer needs to be identified and someone needs to take the lead on making the sport more enjoyable all the way around to everyone, not just the die-hards.  Very interesting convo!

I agree, start the tourney on time!  I've been in the same situation where you rush to get there, but its a late start because of something.  I get it, its usually an issue with the brackets and track wrestling.  There has to be a better way of getting them locked in early.  The other issue is the time between bouts.  We've waited hours and hours to wrestle matches.  Rest is good, but I also think that too much is just or more detrimental than not enough.  My son was 67 intermediate this year, and seemed like it was the biggest bracket everywhere we went.  So there was no in by 8 out by 2.  It was in by 7pm and the last match of that day, which was usually around 6pm.  Anyone less dedicated, wrestler or parent, would have checked out long ago and moved onto something else.

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ISWA format doesn't work well in my opinion and think partially responsible for high turnover rate.   I still remember the last ISWA tournament I took my son to.   Weigh ins were at 6 AM,  my son wrestled only 3 matches that day and was on the math for about 5 minutes.   We didn't get out till 5PM.  5 minutes wrestling for taking up 11 hours of his and my time.  Its just plain stupid,  and I quit going to tournaments after that.  And keep in mind I was a hardcore dad.     Wrestling has to figure a way to schedule it so kids get can compete in a 3 to 4 hour window.    Parents just don't like sitting in the stands doing nothing and spending on unhealthy concessions.   And theres competition out there from other sports,  need to find a better way.   Ohio does a much better job of this than the ISWA.

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