Wrestle the Gap!!!

Wrestling, humankind’s oldest and most basic form of recreational combat, traces its origins back to the dawn of civilization. Carvings and drawings estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 years old, found in caves in southern Europe, illustrate wrestlers in hold and leverage positions. Sumerians cast wrestlers in bold relief on stone slabs at least 5,000 years ago, preceding all other artifacts of ancient sport.

Unfortunately, wrestling does not have a strong history of inclusivity. Widespread female involvement in the sport is relatively new compared to male amateur competition. For example, while male wrestling has been a part of the program of the modern Olympic Games since 1896, female wrestling did not debut until the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Due to traditional sport offerings and gender norms in the United States, many athletic departments have yet to fully recognize the feasibility and benefits that combat sports provide clubs, schools, and the young women who comprise their campuses.

Finals – WM 68KG Round 2 Tamyra Mensah-Stock (TMWC/ USOPTC) won by decision over Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club) (Dec 8-1) ———— (Photo by Tony Rotundo/WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

However, combat sports have been specifically recognized and documented as activities that empower girls and women. They are safe, effective, and inclusive vehicles through which to teach character development in
physical education, and to inspire young women to improve complex social injustices and disparities existing worldwide.

Thankfully, gender norms are changing in ways that lead girls and young women to consider participation in wrestling and other combat sports! Check out the graph below illustrating the exciting trends…

That’s right, the number of female participants in wrestling has increased by nearly 500% between 2001-02 and 2017-18, climbing from 3,405 to 16,562 participants!

The time is now for the addition of women’s wrestling as a sanctioned intercollegiate sport (I’ll opine that it is, in fact, long overdue)! Embracing women’s wrestling would be a big win for colleges, universities, and the communities in which they reside.

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