The California Wrestler Forum

California Wrestling News => California Wrestling (general info) => Topic started by: sdmatfan on September 16, 2020, 09:46:09 pm

Title: Interesting article on a blended model of the sport
Post by: sdmatfan on September 16, 2020, 09:46:09 pm
Curious what other’s thoughts are on this article that I read on track. It is an interesting concept. Wondering what pros and cons everyone thinks something like this would bring

Is the future of scholastic wrestling almost too obvious?

Not if you ask Ken Bigley of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) in New York City. He hopes the rest of the country will use their blended wrestling model to enhance the entire sport.

Bigley, a former wrestler and current assistant coach at New York University, serves as the sports coordinator for the PSAL. New York City has two seasons — a girls' freestyle season in the spring and a boys' folkstyle season in the winter.

The PSAL introduced a new league called blended wrestling five years ago. It’s attractive for smaller schools that have trouble filling weight classes. The basic concept is each team has an equal amount of boys and girls weight classes.

New York City’s model has 16 weight classes — eight for boys and eight for girls.

Boys wrestle boys and girls wrestle girls — but they’re scoring points for the same team. If you want to win a New York City championship and your school participates in the blended wrestling league then a coach will have to recruit both males and females.

Blended wrestling has the opportunity to be a game-changer for growing women’s wrestling. It has already changed the game in New York City for growing participation among girls in the winter.

It is also an opening for wrestling to distance itself from other sports.

While most sports are working to find male sports with a female counterpart, blended wrestling solves any potential problems that may arise. Males and females compete together at tournaments and work toward a common goal.

There are times when track and field will have boys and girls participate at the same time but they aren’t part of the same team. Boys have separate scoring and girls have separate scoring. Wrestling can add to its legacy as the most inclusive and welcoming sport on the planet with a blended format.

Imagine the power of alternating between girls and boys as both genders cheer each other on because every point from every wrestler — regardless of gender — counts toward the team score.

New York City currently has 20 teams participating in the blended format. Bigley wants that number to grow.

“Our data shows that when girls have the opportunity to wrestle other girls they enjoy the sport more, they’re involved in the sport more, and their numbers are going up,” Bigley said. “It’s a great sport. Wrestling is awesome. It’s for anybody. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a male or female.

"You’re going to get benefits and you’re going to become a better person through your experience in wrestling. If we can put things in place to make the experience more positive, in this case making sure girls have an opportunity to compete against other females, it makes it a better experience and a more welcoming environment for everyone.”

Offering blended wrestling is a compelling idea on its own, but there are financial incentives that can’t be ignored, either. You get more people involved and it doesn’t cost any more money. Well, you might have to buy another set of medals, which is a minimal cost to welcome 50 percent more of the population to wrestling.

That also means boys and girls are traveling together and they're competing at tournaments together. The only difference is boys wrestle boys and girls wrestle girls.

“If I could snap my fingers and change the structure of wrestling I would I would do it today,” Bigley said. “I’d make wrestling a blended sport where you have to have a certain number of boys weight classes and a certain number of girls weight classes and they’re competing for the same team.”

Wrestling is the oldest sport — and it might be the most innovative if blended wrestling takes off.

Kyle Klingman can be reached at kyle.klingman@sportsengine.com