Trickle-Down Effect of College Sports: a California Case Study

For years, colleges and universities in California have had more than a rough time maintaining their wrestling programs; more than 20 teams have been axed since 1972. That’s why Simpson University’s announcement this week that it will be adding men’s wrestling next fall is not only positive news for its students but also for the rest of Californian wrestlers and wrestler-hopefuls in middle school, high school and college.

Despite the void left by so few colleges with competitive wrestling opportunities, interest in the sport still plentifully exists. Anderson High wrestling coach Don Williams, named athletic coach for Simpson’s U.’s wrestling team, should have no problems scouting out for competent athletes. In a public note, Williams writes, “The number of outstanding wrestlers out there far exceeds the number of colleges with wrestling. I am looking for young men who are serious about their wrestling and academics, who can compete well at the NAIA level, and who have a strong moral character.” We hope he’s inundated with requests for tryouts!

Williams should also should have minimal challenges building a roster because, as Simpson University athletic director Joe Griffin explains, Williams “has a great chance of success with his experience and his contacts that he has built up over the years.”

As word spreads of this team’s creation, we will likely see more springing up over the next few years. After all, those wrestlers will need more teams to compete with in-state, especially given that the nearest match-up will be at Southern Oregon University. Just one added wrestling program has the potential to rebuild and strengthen the sport for all of California.

The anticipated success and reach of Simpson University’s addition should be a lesson for all schools debating whether to add or reinstate, as well as cut a sport because of Title IX. The impact of unfair, counterproductive policies, like gender quotas and proportionality, commonly touches more than just the one team under consideration. Young athletes hoping to compete in the future at varsity levels or simply practice their athletic skills on intramural teams have a harder time finding easily-available opportunities and may become discouraged that after years of playing, will not be able to do so at the university level.

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