Beyond “Girls Wrestling Boys: Concerned About Mixing the Sexes on the Wrestling Mat?” (Utah Stories, April 2022), one crucial aspect in these girl vs boy wrestling matches ― sportsmanship ― has not substantially improved over the past two decades.
As alluded to in that article, “ … boys can often see these types of matches as ‘lose/lose’ situations. If they win, they only succeed in beating a girl; if they lose, they are known by their family, friends, and classmates as having been beaten by a girl.”
The frustration with the latter can often result in demonstrations of very poor sportsmanship. Take, for example, a match from a duel between James Monroe High School and Belmont High School in liberal California. Watch the video below.
In this setting, we would expect great strides have been made in recognizing equality in mixed-gender sports. Not so.
As shown in the screenshot, the defeat of the male wrestler is treated with disdain. After getting quickly pinned by his girl opponent, he quickly walks away in disgust from the center, looking back as though the match were a fluke or as though he was cheated. The realization that he has been beaten by a girl, something that he will carry with him through adulthood, has only initially begun to be realized.
The worst demonstrations of sportsmanship often lie in not acknowledging the success of your opponent when you are defeated. That is obvious in this example and would very likely not have transpired in this way if not for the genders of the wrestlers involved. There is nothing to be disgusted with in this match if external factors were not at play.
In this case, the boy has to “save face” and diminish the result as though it were undeserved or unfair. He is not yet able to comprehend that he was soundly defeated by a girl wrestler in front of his family, friends, coaches, and teammates. He will likely come to learn that what transpired will likely follow him for many years to come.
If he had handled the situation with respect ― the sportsmanship that every competitor deserves and is expected to exude ― this could have been a great example of equality in the 21st Century. Instead, it is a reminder that we still have a lot of progress to make. Girls and boys on the mat should be seen not for their genders, but rather for their athleticism, bravery, and perseverance.
We may still be a long way from that acceptance. With enough awareness, it may be possible to end these stereotypes and enable our boy wrestlers to acknowledge when they are beaten fair and square. Until then, however, we can highlight and celebrate the victories of girl wrestlers such as this and make them a permanent part of Internet history.
About the author:
Natalie Gonzalez wrestled for James Monroe High School in North Hills, California, and has mentored and coached the next generation of women wrestlers over the past three years. She is passionate about removing barriers and raising awareness for athletes of all ages to enable them to compete on a level playing field.
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