Author Topic: Blind Wrestler wins states in Alabama  (Read 735 times)

Offline New2TheGameNYRef

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Blind Wrestler wins states in Alabama
« on: February 19, 2019, 08:04:53 AM »
Dear All:

J. Spencer wins a state title at 160 in Alabama, 7-6. A great match that came down to the wire. With 30 seconds left, there was a good scramble, I might have awarded one to tie the match, but no escape was given and there was no argument so most likely it was the correct call.

Anyhow, here is my main concern. I understand the rule (Contact at all times) and the intent of the rule I think. If a wrestler is totally blind, this rule makes complete sense. Too much trickery could go on if wrestlers did not have to maintain contact at all times with a blind wrestler. However, wrestlers who are "legally blind" can still see to a degree. I take off my glasses, I may actually have worse vision than 20/200 which constitutes being legally blind. I have officiated many "legally blind" wrestlers where they can get around on their own, walk to the center of the mat on their own, and step on the starting line on their own. Is it fair that these wrestlers are able to get the contact at all times rule? I wholeheartedly agree that you need a rule like this for the wrestlers who are completely blind. It makes 100% sense. However, is the rule too lenient for some?

Imagine a wrestler who doesn't like to tie up and take his shots with separation...He now has to adjust entirely for this wrestler. I get the rule, I understand the rule, just putting it out there for discussion. Yes, wrestlers have to adapt all the time. If a wrestler with no legs is in their weight class. It's an entirely new wrestling match because you're wrestling someone a lot stronger than you, but has no legs. Maybe the rule is good as is, just adapt and wrestle, they had to draw the line somewhere and 20/200 was it. Just some food for thought.

Offline Ray Brinzer

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Re: Blind Wrestler wins states in Alabama
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 11:07:59 AM »
I understand the rule (Contact at all times) and the intent of the rule I think. If a wrestler is totally blind, this rule makes complete sense. Too much trickery could go on if wrestlers did not have to maintain contact at all times with a blind wrestler.

In my opinion, it's not fair even if the opponent is entirely blind.  You are potentially forcing an athlete to change his whole style, in order to accommodate a weakness on the part of his opponent.  "Trickery" is fundamental to the sport, and if your opponent has a vulnerability, you attack it.

That said, it's an unfairness I condone.  The impact on wrestlers who can see is, overall, minimal, while for the blind it is essential in making wrestling a viable sport.  We're better off having blind people involved than not, and besides, they have enough problems without people taking a churlish stance on things like this.  So on the whole, we agree:  it's a better sport with the rule.

Yes, wrestlers have to adapt all the time. If a wrestler with no legs is in their weight class. It's an entirely new wrestling match because you're wrestling someone a lot stronger than you, but has no legs.

Adapting to the capacities of your opponent is different than adapting to different rules.  A wrestler no legs (or one, or three) competes under the same premises as everyone else, except where the rules don't make sense as written (e.g. starting with your foot on the line).  If you can find a way to exploit the opponents' leggedness, you're free to do it.

As an aside, I always found it funny when people complained about Anthony Robles having an "unfair advantage".  Your body is your body; you'd might as well say that being naturally lanky, or strong, or quick was unfair as well.  Anyway, a two-legged wrestler who was convinced it would be a great advantage to have only one leg could arrange to remove the other.  If they're not that serious about winning, whose problem is that?

However, wrestlers who are "legally blind" can still see to a degree. I take off my glasses, I may actually have worse vision than 20/200 which constitutes being legally blind. I have officiated many "legally blind" wrestlers where they can get around on their own, walk to the center of the mat on their own, and step on the starting line on their own. Is it fair that these wrestlers are able to get the contact at all times rule? I wholeheartedly agree that you need a rule like this for the wrestlers who are completely blind. It makes 100% sense. However, is the rule too lenient for some?

It is too lenient, but there's just nothing practical to be done about it.  I wasn't legally blind, but I wasn't that far off, and I believe Doug Blubaugh was.  You don't have to make out details of any sort to be effective at wrestling; if you know where the opponents' limbs are, you're pretty much good to go.  A 20/200 wrestler would need to ask the time and score frequently, and couldn't see what fingers the ref was raising, but should otherwise be fine.

As you say, they had to draw the line somewhere.  "Legally blind" is an established definition, and it's 20/200.  Setting a different standard for "wrestling-blind" is impractical, so we accept that the rule isn't perfect.

Funny story, by the way.  I was in the state championships in 9th grade; the audience was large and loud, and there was no chance of hearing your coaches.  When it was my choice in a tough match, I turned to the corner for advice, but they seemed to just be sitting there.  I waved my arms, but they still didn't respond.  I yelled, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" and made big gestures with my arms, trying to remind them that I couldn't possibly make out whatever signals they might be making with their hands.

At this point, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  The ref turned me around, pointing me to my coaches.  They were jumping around in their corner, trying to get my attention.

Offline New2TheGameNYRef

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Re: Blind Wrestler wins states in Alabama
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 04:11:37 PM »
Ray,

Great insight and I'm 100% in agreement with you. Maybe it's more an ethical and moral question each wrestler has to deal with. The rule makes complete sense...maybe students need to practice with contact at all times if they know a blind wrestler is a stud in their weight class. Thanks for the in-depth perspective that you shared, it is greatly appreciated.

If anyone subscribes to NFHS network, check out the match....Day 3 I believe, on mat 3.....it's like 4 hours in....I'm curious if anyone here would award an escape within the last 30 seconds of the third period.

This is the link, not sure if it will work since it's with my account...

https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/ahsaa-track-wrestling/game787a96daf