West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on Good and Bad Breaks in Wrestling and Life

In wrestling, as with life, you've got to learn to take the bad with the good. Why is it that people tend to forget their good fortunes and think only of those bad breaks-- dwelling on them for days. I know because I see it all the time, whether it be teaching in school, listening to friends' problems, or participating in or coaching and officiating wrestling matches. Individuals often feel that someone is out to get them when something goes sour. Well, in my opinion, it "ain't" so - especially in wrestling.

I have coached and officiated wrestling locally for over 40 years. As a coach, I have witnessed my wrestlers receive calls from officials that I felt were athletic gifts. They were questionable calls that went our way. Ironically, when close calls didn't go in our favor, I quickly forgot the good ones. It's the nature of the beast in the coaching ranks.

However, as the years went by and I began to mature as a coach, I perceived an equalizing trend. Over the course of time in athletics, one realizes that the good and the bad tend to even themselves out. And I learned to tell my wrestlers that they can't expect all those close calls to go their way.

As an official, I have had to make those close calls. And believe me, they weren't pretty situations. But you have to make difficult decisions because they're a miserable part of the job. So, even in the officiating ranks, I have observed the same phenomena occur. During the course of a wrestling season, when you add up all those close or questionable calls, the law of averages (somehow) seems to even things out for all involved.

In conclusion, try to learn what I have gleaned over the years as a wrestler, coach, and official. And that is as follows:

"In all facets of life, sooner or later, everything comes out in the wash."

... on How Sports Teach Athletes to Accept Life's Injustices

As I have suggested in the above column, a certain amount of injustice does exist in all sports at every level of competition. The more I consider this reality in athletics, the more I feel that quite possibly such acts of poor judgment (or mistakes) that unfairly penalize the innocent competitor, may have some redeeming qualities. Now, I know what you're thinking; Welker's finely gone over the deep end. But hear me out.

Keep in mind, the mission of schools, and the activities associated with them, is to prepare students to be productive citizens in our society. This includes preparing them for the many adversities they will have to face as adults. One of these hardships is the "inequity" that a person is often confronted with throughout his existence in this world. Yes, life is not always fair.

When coaches and officials make errors that hurt the athlete, they do so with no malice in mind. However, many malicious individuals hurt others intentionally during the course of daily living, without remorse. Shouldn't future adults also be prepared to deal with this unfair fact of life?

For example, as a teacher, I was a disciplinarian in the classroom, who demanded appropriate student-behavior. Of course, some of my students felt that I was a bit harsh at times. My respond to them was: "I may seem cruel, but I'm "fair" when administering justice in this classroom. Many individuals out there (pointing to the window) will be cruel to you, without justification. So you better be ready to expect such wickedness when you reach adulthood."

In sum, I worry about kids who have never experienced some form of injustice while growing up. They're in for a rude awakening when they step into the real world, and it may be too overwhelming for them to psychologically accept. At the very least, exposure to some unfairness in athletics will prepare students to face adversity in life head on.

"The remedy for a short temper is a long walk."
- Jacqueline Schiff

Editor's Note: A former Pennsylvania State Champion, Dr. Welker is a nationally recognized authority on amateur wrestling who has published hundreds of articles and two best-selling books (The Wrestling Drill Book, 1st & 2nd Editions) on the subject in which 1000s of copies have been sold nationwide. His drill book can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.HumanKinetics.com.

Return to the West Virginia Mat Thoughts Index Page
Return to the WV-Mat front page