Last fall I was contacted by a private investigator who wanted my advice regarding an incident that occurred at a dual meet in a state out West. He did not go into detail.
More recently, I was contacted by the law firm who hired the private investigator, and is representing the plaintive in the case. It seems that a wrestler was injured at a competition when he was driven off the mat by his opponent. His guardians now want to sue the referee for negligence. It is their contention that the boy would not have been injured if the official was more observant and in a better position to stop the maneuver. They wanted to retain me as an expert witness; I succinctly informed them that I was not interested.
To be quite honest, I am deeply disturbed about this lawsuit. It seems to be a sign of worst things to come for sports officiating. Allow me to explain.
First, we are now experiencing a decrease of individuals joining the officiating ranks. There are many reasons for this reduction in force, but mainly it is due to the fact that they don't want to put up with the hassle of irate fans, etc. It's a tough job that now, more so than ever, requires a person with thick skin.
Second, those choosing to officiate are mainly middle class men and women who want to make a positive contribution to the sports they love. In fact, they put their hearts and souls into performing well on our fields and gymnasiums.
Finally, the state registration fees to become an official are still quite reasonable, averaging around 35 dollars annually. And a small portion of the fee is for liability insurance. This could change drastically.
Should lawsuits against athletic officials become more prevalent and should judgments sway in favor of the plaintiff, guess what will happen? Yep, you got it; liability insurance will go sky high.
Very few middle-class individuals will be willing to pay (or can afford to pay) 100s of dollars to officiate. So if you think we are hurting for referees now, I hate to think of what it will be like 10 to 15 years down the road if lawsuits against referees become commonplace.
Good, decent people make honest mistakes, including athletic officials. In the past, we had a kinder, gentler and more forgiving culture. It seems that greed and contemporary litigation has changed all of that -- and, unfortunately, not for the better.
There are seven 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
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.
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.
OVAC Joe Thomas Wrestling Warrior
Coach Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior of the Week is River High School's 171-pounder Troy Starr. This season, as a junior, Starr was champion at the Tyler Consolidated "Wrestle-A-Bout"Invitational Championships. Troy also garnered silver medallist honors at the Union Local, Beallsville, and River Wrestling Tournaments.
Most recently, the River Pilot's Troy Starr won 4th place honors at the 54th annual Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Championships. Congratulations are extended to Troy Starr - this week's Joe Thomas OVAC Wrestling Warrior.
The Deaton-Regis Weekly Dual Meet Predictions
Larry Deaton and Jack Regis, two of the Valley's finest mat officials are competing with each other this season, picking the winners of selected weekly matches.
This week's dual meets featured matches are Edison at Steubenville (Thursday) and John Marshall at Wheeling Park (Sat.)
Deaton picks Edison over Steubenville 37-17 and Wheeling Park over John Marshall 33-29.
Regis calls Steubenville over Edison 32-31 and John Marshall over Wheeling Park 31-27.
"Live with men as if God saw you, and talk to God as if men were listening."