Foley's Friday Mailbag: February 24, 2017
Here ya go, the next two controversies, the 2nd involving a PSU event and wrestler:
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @trfoley, Instagram: Trfoley37
This week a wrestler in Texas forfeited a match to an opponent based on the knowledge that the competitor has transitioned into a male. The news made national headlines and sparked debate about transgender rights and the rights of athletes competing against transgender athletes.
Though it would be easy to jump to a side, this is not a matter of simple discrimination, or religious zealotry. At the core of the forfeit (and lawsuit asking that the transgendered athlete be forbidden from competing) is that the transgendered athletes is taking testosterone to help with the gender transition, something otherwise prohibited by in Texas high school sports.
Those opposing the transgender athlete's participation make a point about fairness: if a student who took these drugs and tried to compete would test positive for performance enhancers and be ineligible, why should an exception be made for those transitioning between sexes? The NCAA also tackled a few years ago, settling on the ruling that a female athlete may participate in female athletics during their first year of transitioning. After that point the athlete would no longer be eligible to compete on a women's team.
But here's the real crux, the athlete in question, Mack Beggs, wanted to compete against boys but athletic administrators in Texas, and later court rulings, compelled him compete against girls.
No doubt that transgender policy is a complicated issue that touches on a lot of hot topics, however this should have been a non-issue. A transgender athlete wanted to participate in wrestling, but due to a lack of understanding about the complex situation a handful of bureaucrats denied him that right, and possibly denied the right of fair competition to others.
Wrestling is too often about wins and losses. Every year we see news specials in the profiles of courage by some of our sport's disabled athletes and it stirs up in us a love of our sport and the equality among people it promotes. This isn't as stark of an example, but it's one which would require even more courage and would bang the drum of our sport's equality even louder than before.
A wrestling match is a meeting between two humans with the expectation of exchanging techniques, strength and grit. Competitors testing their work ethic and hoping for a positive outcome. Here, what could have been -- an acceptance of a match including a transgendered athlete in the gender of his identification -- would have shown the world our sport's most redeemable and admirable qualities, rather than our culture's most vile and basest instinct.To your questions …
Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State nearly secured a fall against Oklahoma State's Dean Heil (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
Picture missing, the pin was OBVIOUS!!!!!
Q: I feel like Flo's issues overshadowed the one glaring rules issue that took place in the National Duals finals match between Jimmy Guilibon and Dean Heil. We had a situation where a wrestler was put onto his back by another wrestler in an inescapable situation from neutral position (much like a jones' shin whizzer tilt) and exposed in criteria for a grand total of 20 uninterrupted seconds. Following the exchange, zero points were awarded in two similar exchanges. What constitutes "control" in situations like these? Is it purely a judgment call?
-- Bryan O.
Foley: The situation was obnoxious. The wrestler from Oklahoma State was pinned -- plain, simple and without argument. The area of his back necessary to call the fall was on the mat and the wrestler on top was in control of the situation. When compared to the "flash takedown" the control was even more evident, lasting (as you noted) for 20 uninterrupted seconds
In wrestling, you are meant to stay OFF your back. This is universal and has a history that extends back more than 5,000 years. It's the heritage that binds our sport! That our wrestlers are putting themselves on their back for 20 seconds and not being called for a pin, but also WINNING the matches is simply embarrassing. I don't have a preference between the teams and think the world of both coaches, but it's an embarrassment to our sport that this match didn't end with an obvious fall call.
My hope is that the rules committee dives into this issue and ensures that the sport returns to a more logical rule set.