Wrestling With Some Issues

I heard about this story yesterday where an Iowa high school boy, a wrestling champ and favorite to win his state tournament, defaulted on his match because he didn’t want to face his opponent – a girl.

The boy said “As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.”

I have three words. Good for him!

Seriously I am all for women’s liberation and equal opportunities all that, but sometimes you just have to stop and ask yourself “Is that really necessary?”

Warning —  I am about to climb very high onto a soapbox.

Contact sports are just that. Full of contact. Football and hockey might be easier for a girl and a boy to face each other, as there is a lot of heavy equipment involved. Pads, face masks, ice skates. Even with all that I am still not 100 percent convinced girls belong there.

As a gender, boys are stronger than girls. Not always, but generally they are. I am not sexist. I am strong, but not as strong as a man.

But as far as wrestling, I gotta say no. It’s two boys, a stretchy unitard and some head-gear. That’s it.

As a member of my high school gymnastics team, quite a long time ago, we practiced in the gym right next to the boy’s wrestling team. They slammed each other on the mats. They were entangled together in strange half Nelson or some other-named positions where a leg was here, an arm here, a leg over there, someone’s face at the mat. They grunted, grabbed and groaned. They were close and sweaty and slimy.

And boys.

I feel sorry for that boy who had to give up the chance to win the state championship. He worked hard, as I am sure the girl opponent did, too. But we teach boys to respect girls and that we are not physical with girls. Yet we are placing them in situations where that rule just goes out the window. It’s confusing to say the least.

I saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid the movie with my kids and, the scene where Greg Hefley gets his butt kicked by a girl was admittedly supposed to be funny. (As an aside, the movie stunk.)

However, in real life, I wouldn’t want my son to have to wrestle against a girl. Nor would I want my daughter wrestling against a boy. I’ve seen first hand in youth soccer some boys who are just not comfortable with being aggressive and stealing a ball from a girl. And in soccer, you are not entwined on a mat.

Along with the unwillingness to give it 100 percent for fear you may hurt your female opponent, both wrestlers would be grabbing each other in places that, as parents, we certainly don’t want grabbed. I am not saying it does happen, just that it could.

I know that in some schools, you will get in trouble for hugging your friends. But we’ll put a boy and a girl up against each other in what may end up as a compromising position on the mat.

Girls should wrestle  if they can and want to. It’s obvious they want to. The article I read stated that, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, about 6,000 girls wrestled in competitions last year. There were nearly 275,000 boys.

Why not create a girl’s wrestling team where like-minded girls with a desire to wrestle can do so? There are already girl’s athletic teams for basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, track and field, and countless others. So why not wrestling?

Most states require girls to wrestle boys. I don’t understand it.  Only three states  — California, Hawaii and Texas —  sponsor girls-only high school wrestling tournaments. I think that it’s a start.

So, as I head down off the soap box, I have to ask you — parents and non-parents alike out there. Is it necessary for our boys and girls to compete against each other in close contact sports? Is this going too far with women’s liberation by putting them there?

I wonder what the statistics are of boys wrestling with decisions  like that boy in Iowa had to.


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