Many high school coaches already restrict tackling to two practices per week. File photo/2012

I awoke this morning to find that wrestling had been cut as an Olympic sport and that high school football practices may be hit with no-tackling restrictions handed down by state legislation.

I awoke this morning to a strange new world.

While my mind’s still a bit fuzzy, cloudy, maybe even a little hazy, I’m reading that the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board has dropped wrestling for the 2020 games, but it’s possible it can still be re-instated at a later date, although, that’s said to be unlikely. I’m not an ardent fan of wrestling, but isn’t it one of the sports — along with running and jumping — that make up the foundation of the Olympics?

To drop wrestling when there are such unusual Olympic sports as table tennis and synchronized swimming seems baffling. OPRF head wrestling coach Mike Powell was none too pleased to hear his sport may no longer be on the world’s stage.

“This is devastating news but the fight has just begun,” he said. “I wonder what Putin and the Russian Oligarch’s will have to say about this.”

Powell, who is busy prepping 11 of his wrestlers for the upcoming Class 3A Individual State Wrestling Meet and who was on hand in London to cheer on his former grappler Ellis Coleman at the 2012 Games, added that the IOC’s withdrawal from the sport may be a blessing in disguise.   

“The silver lining in this is that with the corrupt IOC out of the way, maybe Fila will reinstate the previously dropped weight classes and change several of the rules that the IOC pushed for over the last 20 years. Having the IOC out of the picture could turn out to be a good thing.”

Then there’s the news that Rep. Carol Sente, D-Lincolnshire, is proposing a bill that high school football teams be allowed to tackle during only one practice per week in the hopes of protecting athletes from suffering brain damage produced by repeated jolts to the head.

OPRF head football coach John Hoerster, whose team, like many teams, already has limited tackling days throughout a practice week — two at the most — said the word “tackling” would need to be specifically defined.   

“Most of our tackling is focused on form, where we rarely take people all the way to the ground,” he said. “We also limit the scope, confining the tackling to a smaller, more controlled space.

“My main concern is what the state will define as ‘tackling.’ If we eliminate all forms of tackling — in drills, working on form and technique — how will we as coaches teach tackling in a way that will keep all athletes safe?”

State legislation to prohibit coaches from keeping kids safe?

I awoke this morning to a strange new world.


Twitter: @oakparksports

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...

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