Wrestlers are some of the most grateful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. It could be that being involved in a sport that asks so much of the athlete both physically and mentally, has made wrestlers appreciate not only everything they earn but everything that is given to them as well. And, what is the one thing that most wrestlers are grateful for? The are grateful for the opportunity to wrestle. Time and time again you will hear wrestlers say that the reason they are successful or were able to overcome a challenge was because of the tools they acquired through wrestling.
With so many positive feelings toward the sport from those directly involved and fans alike, one would think that sport was in pretty good shape. In a sense it is, new opportunities are being created for future wrestlers; the latest generation of American wrestlers, on the international circuit, are poised to change the wrestling world landscape with dominant performances; and, the wrestling community mobilizes quickly when the sport’s place is threatened by those who cannot begin to understand the value and benefits it brings. But, that is just on the surface, it’s what we see in the media, it’s what makes us feel good about where the sport is at and where is heading in a public and global sense. Locally, the outlook may not be so rosy.
Sometimes, we forget that most youth club organizations are run by volunteers. We also tend to look at stipend-earning high school coaches as being justly compensated for the work they do and take it as a sign that the program is in a healthy state. It is easy for parents and wrestlers alike to overlook the sacrifices and work those coaches and volunteers put into the sport simply to give other wrestlers the same opportunities they had when they were wrestling at that age, and it’s getting more challenging each passing year.
It is not a rare thing to hear the story of a high school wrestling coach having to turn over a significant amount of hard-earned funds, raised over the summer, to their athletic director because the coach made the mistake of going the extra mile raising that money and the A. D. can find good use for those funds. It is also becoming more common for club coaches to have to find ways to subsidize some team members’ expenses out of their own pockets because the children’s parents have hit hard times and have become unable to make their financial contributions to the team.
I can list many examples where local wrestling is facing challenges. For those of us still involved in wrestling at some capacity, we know what is going on at our child’s or our own old club and at the high school team we tell stories about. For those of us no longer in touch with those local organizations, but who still attribute the character traits we have to wrestling, life happens, I know. We get busy, we get sidetracked, but let me tell you, things are getting tough for the youth club and high school teams of which you were a part. They need our help.
Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner and we will be taking inventory of the things we are grateful for, hopefully surrounded by people we are grateful to have in our lives. I hope at some point during that day wrestling comes into our minds. Hopefully, it will stay there through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sofa Sunday, and Cyber Monday.That way, when Tuesday comes around we will be ready to take action.
For the past six years, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving Day has been known as Giving Tuesday. And, what is this day about? The movement’s website puts it best:
#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.
It is with that goal, “to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness,” that I present this post to you. I know times are tough and getting tougher. I am not expecting anyone to whip out a checkbook and give an exuberant amount of money. But, if everyone who has been touched by wrestling (athletes, parents and fans alike) were to donate a small amount to their youth club, high school, and/or college teams—the impact would be considerable.
So, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving Day, remember it’s #GivingTuesday so #GiveToWrestling because as you all know, wrestling will give back.