Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Santa 2009

Dear Santa,

I’m late with my list again – sorry.

First, thanks for giving us some of the things I asked for last year. I requested more wrestling opportunities in America’s largest cities and you sent Mike Rodriguez who, with the help of Mark Churella and others, launched Beat the Streets Detroit.

You packed your sleigh with new programs like Baker University and Lake Erie College. You brought intercollegiate wrestling opportunities to untapped areas when new teams were announced at Shorter College in Georgia, Wayland Baptist University in Texas and Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas. Someone at Norwich University must have moved from the “naughty” column to the “nice” column because you reinstated their program less than a year after they dropped it.

Thanks, also, for putting more wrestling coverage under my tree. Just yesterday I got to follow Wartburg’s Desert Duals through a live blog – and boy am I thankful! It’s pretty likely that there will be a shakeup in some individual Division III rankings after the action in Las Vegas.

I’ve kept a couple of items from last year on this year’s list. We still need more opportunities for girls to wrestle. The success of girls’ interscholastic wrestling in Texas, Hawaii, Washington and California and the growth of women’s intercollegiate programs prove that girls want to wrestle. They just don’t want to have to wrestle boys. Please, Santa, send us someone enlightened enough and with enough energy to lead the grassroots effort required to expand girls’ wrestling.

I’m still looking for a “shinier” version of freestyle wrestling, too. I’m afraid that even John Smith would look boring under the current rules.

I’m pretty greedy, so I’ve added a few things to this year’s list. Could we get more press conferences with Tom Brands? I know that a lot of fans love to hate Hawkeye wrestling, but Coach Brands just might be the most interesting interview in all of sports. “Poop his pants” has now been added to his long list of “quotable quotes”.

Can we get more kids on the mat? Dan Gable’s latest catchphrase is, “America needs wrestling”. I watched a video where he was wrapping up a clinic session and he explained a little about what he meant, “We need (toughness). If the power goes out and you need heat you need to be able to use a chainsaw. If the chainsaw breaks you need to be able to use an axe.” Wrestling teaches toughness and resiliency in ways that nothing else does. We need “tough” scientists like Norman Borlaug – and “tough” writers like John Irving – and “tough” leaders like Teddy Roosevelt. Where will they come from? You can be sure that some are going to walk off the mat and into greatness.

Finally, I want more wrestling events in Cedar Rapids. This is a great town, filled with wonderful people – many of whom are still struggling with the devastation of the 2008 flood. By some estimates we are still hundreds of millions of dollars and several years away from a full recovery. Last year, wrestling tourism – the Iowa High School Dual Championships and the NCAA Division III Championships – contributed roughly a million and a half dollars to the local economy. What better way to fight off our backs than wrestling. How about the World Team Trials – or another USA vs. Russia event, but let’s make it even bigger and better. Maybe we could add a kids tournament. Is it too much to ask for people to equate Cedar Rapids with wrestling? I don’t think so.

Until next year, Santa.

Jim Brown

Cedar Rapids, IA

Wrestling fan