West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker, National Wrestling Hall of Famer
and Rick Welker

...on Ethics in Wrestling

By Dr. Bill Welker

The wrestling coach has many responsibilities. In my opinion, two of the most important duties of the mat mentor is to teach his athletes the importance of "good sportsmanship" and "honesty."

It seems that the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) feels the same. Below is the first guideline statement in the NFHS's Coaches Code of Ethics.

"The Coach shall be aware that he or she has a tremendous influence, for either good or ill, on the education of the student and, thus, shall never place the value of winning above the value of instilling the highest ideals of character."

Unfortunately, a few coaches have not abided by the above doctrine. Instead, they have overlooked, ignored or allowed unethical behavior by their wrestlers to occur. The following are two of the more prevalent negative acts.

Injury Time

On numerous occasions, I have witnessed a wrestler asking for an "injury time-out" when it is obvious that no injury occurred. In fact, this often happens when the wrestler is on his back. And it is always the official who takes the heat.

This is a very unfair indictment. Even if the referee is totally aware that the wrestler is not hurt, he has NO CHOICE and is required to stop the match.

Actually, the one responsible for this unethical behavior is the coach. If he does not correct this dishonest act by his wrestlers, the coach, himself, is also being unethical.

The Slam

In my 50-year association with wrestling, I can't tell you how many times I have seen a wrestler "take of dive" after being slammed to win the match. Moreover, I have observed coaches telling their wrestlers stay down. Without question, this is teaching the wrestler it is "okay" to cheat not only in wrestling, but also in life.

Yes, coaches in all sports, have to look beyond "winning at all costs," and concern themselves with developing athletes who grow up to be men and women of integrity. If a coach fails to promote the significance of integrity, he is a true failure as a coach, no matter how many wins he has to his credit.

Honesty IS the best policy!

Technical Violations

(Part One)

There are five technical violations in wrestling. Today we will discuss the first three technical violations. All but one technical violation (Incorrect Starting Position or False Starts) are penalized via the progressive penalty chart in the following manner:

" First Offense: One match point for the opponent
" Second Offense: One match point for the opponent
" Third Offense: Two Match points for the opponent
" Fourth Offense: Disqualification

Let's now take a look at the first three technical violations: Leaving the Mat Proper, Intentionally Going Out-of-bounds, and Grasping of Clothing.

Leaving the Mat Proper

No wrestler may walk off the mat to spit in the waste can, for water, for legal medication, etc. without first receiving permission from the official.

Intentionally Going Out-of-bounds (Fleeing the Mat)

Neither wrestler may intentionally go out-of-bounds when the match is in progress to avoid wrestling his opponent for any reason. There is one exception; If an opponent has scored near-fall points, the bottom man may scoot out-of-bounds on purpose.

Grasping of Clothing

A contestant may grab nothing but his opponent while wrestling. Should a wrestler grasp his adversary's uniform in an attempt to prevent him from scoring, any points his opponent obtains will be awarded plus the appropriate penalty point(s). Note, if the referee feels that the bottom man can not score due to the top man grabbing his uniform, the referee may stop the match and award the appropriate penalty point(s).

Be reminded, should a wrestler accidently get his fingers or hand caught in his opponent's singlet, no penalty will be indicated and the referee may have to take an official's time out rectify the situation.

Mini-Mat Quiz

Q: Wrestler puts Wrestler B on his back in a high bridge for three seconds. Wrestler B then uses his feet to push both wrestlers out-of-bounds. Is this a technical violation?
A: No. This is not a technical violation because Wrestler A would have earned two points for the near-fall situation.

Mat Message

"Adversity is the trial of principal. Without it, a man hardly knows whether he is honest or not."
-- Henry Fielding

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