Blog 34: A controversial article

A controversial article
by Shannyn Gillespie
IG: @coachshannyntalks

Why do athletic/sport leagues around the globe separate the genders in competition? 

That question is the theme of this article and the short answer appears to be a competitive advantage.  Below, will discuss several issues that wrestling enthusiasts are also faced with when males compete with females after puberty…


Wrestling, like many sports, does have injuries and this fact is exasperated when females compete with males.  In other words, males get injured when wrestling males frequently and seemingly at every tournament.  

The nature of sports & athletics predisposes many to injuries which are not limited to these factors: strength, overuse, fatigue, incorrect technique, & nutrition.  This info is not new and again is intensified when males wrestle females largely due to the first point or the strength factor.

Weight classes

The main reason for weight classes in weight class sports is to create competitive balance.  Written another way, bigger stronger athletes have a strength advantage over smaller less strong athletes in the same sport.  

Those words are not meant to be disparaging and are in fact — facts.  If this were not the case, weight class sports would not have weight classes and competitive balance would not be an argument.  This paragraph ties into the last paragraph regarding strength & injuries.


For almost a century (wrestling started in US colleges in 1903) females were not allowed to compete in collegiate wrestling nor scholastic (high school) wrestling.  In fact, the first women’s varsity program was sponsored at the University Minnesota-Morris in 1993.  The first state to sponsor or sanction high school girls wrestling was Hawaii in 1998.  Now, there are 80+ collegiate women’s wrestling sponsored programs and 30+ states that sanction high school girls wrestling.

Does the last paragraph imply that females did not want to wrestle?


Does that paragraph imply that females were not allowed to wrestle?

The author believes it is a combination of the above factors/questions based on the below rationale.

Many females were not allowed or encouraged to participate in sponsored nor sanctioned athletics really until the passing of Title IX in the US.  So, many females did not believe it was their place to participate in athletics nor sports like wrestling.  

Because female wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in US colleges & high schools, it stands to reason that many college athletics conferences and high school athletics organizations provide opportunities for female wrestling.

The challenge with the last sentence could be the word “reason”.  

Other sports

Most college & high school athletics are separated by gender due to the injury, strength, & competitive balance factors.  In some cases where a female athletic team is not sponsored at a US college or high school, a female may join a male team.  As suggested, this provides opportunity and also gives males a competitive advantage while increasing the injury risk for females – in all sports/athletics including wrestling.

Seems obvious

The reality of males competing against females in wrestling is seen frequently in US high school athletics (and below high school levels).  The other truth is that most sports in the US provide an opportunity for females to have a female only version of the sport.  The question to ask to the powers that be in scholastic wrestling is this:

Why is it okay for females to compete against males in wrestling, but not in the majority of athletics like basketball, baseball, track & field?

It is rare for females to compete against males at the college level in wrestling but many large NCAA DI college conferences like the Pac 12, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, & Ivy League do not sponsor female wrestling.  So, if females want to compete in wrestling in those very well known college conferences, they must form a wrestling club largely on their own…

This does not seem fair.

Closing thoughts

Female wrestling in the US has made great strides since 1993 & 1998.  Female wrestling has the opportunity to create even more competitive balance plus participation growth (and reduce female wrestling injuries) by sponsoring & sanctioning female only wrestling in all colleges & high schools that sponsor & sanction athletics.  This will have a trickle down effect too and impact female wrestling students below high school levels that, in many cases, idolize & emulate their heroes.

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