Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fila's "New Vision" for Wrestling (still has room for improvement)

Today, Fila proudly announced its new vision for Wrestling starting January 1st, 2014.

Here is a link to Fila's announcement…

As a Canadian National Coach within Wrestling I have been anticipating and planning for these changes. This past year we engaged in a fight to save our sport within the Olympic Program, and in my opinion made some major strides toward improvement. The change in leadership and recent events left me optimistic that our sport finally showed the ability to overcome serious inertia and start to change for the better.

Todays announced rules and weight class modifications leave me with some very mixed feelings. I know there will never be consensus among all wrestling experts as to what is truly best for our great sport. Yet, some of the changes as set forth have SERIOUS flaws in there rationale, while others will contribute positively to our sports future.

Two goals I have heard stated by Fila Members on a number of occasions (to IOC members and media) 1) Make our sport more exciting, 2) Make our sport easier to understand.

Positive changes to date:
- Moving to 3 minute rounds (has favoured fitter and more skilled athletes), with less reliance on tactical wresting and more emphasis on creating scoring.
- Elimination of the clinch (this tie breaking situation was a major reason why athletes failed to engage in wrestling, they were often rewarded by chance with a round winning situation).
- Move to cumulative match scoring. (in the old rules an athlete could win round one on a clinch, lose round two 6-0, and win round three on a clinch)…
- Addition of two additional women's weights in the Olympic program (in London there were 14 men's weights and 4 women's. Each male weight also had more athletes per weight class than females)
- Elevation of a scoring attack to 2 points, while a push out is 1 point

New changes that are positive:
- Elimination of multiple ways to win a match. Removal of 5 point throw and 2 x 3point techniques
(if our goal as stated is to simplify the sport for spectators then all of these criteria add confusion). The object of wrestling is to PIN, that will never change. If a fall can not be achieved I would like the winner to be the one with greater points. (yet we still use criteria in a tie which I would like to change).
- Raising the limits for technical superiority to 10 points in freestyle, and 8 points in Greco.  With the elevation of attacks to 2 points, I believe 7 points was too low to truly demonstrate superiority.

New Changes that don't make sense (to me): 
-Weight Categories seem to be politically motivated and lack any true rationale.
Keeping 8 categories is a positive move yet the construction and the design are confusing, and (in my opinion) lack common sense.
Men's: I can understand in some way a rationale to differentiate between Greco and Freestyle Categories (not sure I agree with it, yet i understand, it offers every sized male at least one option to compete in wrestling). Yet looking at the design and history of wrestling these Categories (or at least the Olympic ones are created to benefit larger athletes. Most sports already offer great advantages to larger athletes, wrestling was one of the great sports where smaller men (and women) could compete on a fair playing field. Yet we always seem to eliminate the smaller athletes from the mix when it comes to weight category changes… An example of this lack on common sense… 74kg Freestyle is followed by 86kg (a twelve kg spread), 86kg is followed by 97kg (a eleven kg spread)… I would like someone to explain the rationale for this to me.
Women's: Again I understand the idea of a normal population distribution (and therefore having more weight categories in the middle of the weights). Yet a 5kg difference between 48kg and 53kg, followed by a 2kg difference to 55kg. I know these are Non-Olympic categories, but does that make sense to other. Maybe a 52kg to 55kg might make more sense (in my opinion)…
I am worried that the weight categories as selected were picked to cater to individual athletes on the existing Fila Roster (and not for what is truly best for the sport LONG TERM).

Changes I am not sure of:
-Passivity rule and 30 second shot clock. I do see the philosophical benefit to this rule, and I think (done right) it adds an excitement element to the matches. Yet I have experienced too often already instances where the officials can give the benefit of the doubt to whom every they like. In Poland the USA and Canada was on the receiving end of nearly every passivity call even if we had clearly attacked more preceding the call. At the Worlds this was done better.

Changes that I would like to see:
-Seeding at the Worlds and Olympics. Just for returning medalists in my opinion. Yet how can thee returning Gold and silver medalist draw each other first match?? There was talk that this would happen yet it is not mentioned in the new changes.
-Include people who lost to any on the semi finalists in the repache. The argument against this is that it takes more matches, so what, if it allows us to find the best wrestlers.

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