Friday, April 17, 2020

MHSAA Should Finally Follow National Weight Classes

Back in 2011 the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFS) approved weight class changes for high school wrestling. The MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) for some reason decided not to make this change and retain the weight classes from before the change which are: 103, 112, 119, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 152, 160, 171, 189, 215, and 285. 

Fast forward, it is nine years later, and the MHSAA is one of the only remaining states that are still not using the NFHS weight classes established back in 2011. The weight classes used by the NFHS are 106 pounds, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182, 195, 220 and 285 which you can see give more wrestling opportunity’s to the larger wrestlers without as big of jumps between weights. There are still 14 weight classes, the weight differences in the smaller classes are only increased by 1-2 pounds than previous.

Wrestling has always had a great relationship with the sport of football, you know what every wrestling coach can tell football players who want to be better at football “Wrestling will make you better at football”. So why do we currently have so few weight classes that fit the stature of a lot of football players? The current weight classes are discouraging those who are larger by offering less weights in the upper range as well as huge weight disparities between the classes. If we want to attract more kids to wrestling, starting with offering more opportunities to athletes in other sports is a great start. 

The attractive feature of the current NFHS weight classes are the reduced weight disparities between 170 and heavier. Instead of an 18 pound jump between 171 and 189 it is reduced to 12 pounds. While we move up a weight class the 195 pound weight gives a great weight for those who would previously would have had to decide between 189 and 215 as their weight class which is a 26 pound difference in weight, leaving little wiggle room to athletes caught in the middle. 

The change would only eliminate one weight from the middle range of the classes that already owned more weight classes than any other range. This decision was not made arbitrarily by the NFHS to change weight classes back then either, “The rules committee was able to analyze data from almost 200,000 wrestlers across the country, with the goal to create weight classes that have approximately seven percent of the wrestlers in each weight class.” said Dale Pleimann, chair of the NFHS Wrestling Rules Committee in an interview with K.J. Pilcher from The Gazette. This study was done over a three to four year span with each state allowed to give input.

We should always be willing to evolve in order to improve our sports by trying to increase fairness, participation, and competition. It is time for the MHSAA to step up and follow in the steps that other states had taken many years ago and implement the current NFHS weight classes into immediate effect for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

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