How Long Will Female Wrestling Continue to be Overshadowed?


Jasmine Whitfield, Correspondent

Once considered a sport specifically for boys, wrestling has now become one of the fastest-growing sports for female athletes at the high school level. Female wrestlers who once competed against boys and were forced to overcome the strength barrier are finally receiving recognition. States and schools are now pushing to create girl-only teams, and are even creating more and more girl-only wrestling tournaments and championships. Some guys make it uncomfortable to wrestle. 

One of my most-asked questions as a female wrestler is “do the guys touch you purposefully or accidentally while you wrestle?” Not only is this question uncomfortable, but it also is a scarily common occurrence that’s often hard to talk about. USA wrestling is a website that allows you to purchase a card in order to competitively wrestle out of high school duals. The website has a list of wrestlers who are ineligible to wrestle and their reason why. At this very moment, there are a number of male wrestlers who are currently ineligible to wrestle due to sexual misconduct. On multiple of occasions, a male member of another schools’ wrestling team has been inappropriate towards me on and off the mat. It is especially uncomfortable that during almost every match I go to at least one person on the team comes up to me asking for my number or social media. If it doesn’t happen directly after, they reach out to me online by searching my name on Instagram. 

This is why I insist on the push for wrestling teams to no longer be coed and instead have female only teams on the highschool level. Another example is that the average man tends to be considerably stronger than the average woman. Specifically, the absolute total body strength of women has been reported as being roughly 67% that of men. This is another reason as to why the sport should be separated. 

However, studies have shown that many female wrestlers have successfully overcome this barrier and gone farther than the stronger males that they compete against according to Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling’s Director of Communications via the National Wrestling Hall of Fame blog. The number of female wrestlers on the high school level has continued to rise, sometimes by more than 10% annually. In the 2018-2019 school year, for example, more than 22,000 girls were active on a wrestling team. Joan Fulp and Andrea Yamamoto, co-chairs of the USA Wrestling Girls High School Development Committee, notes that these rising numbers suggest that there is more than enough interest to warrant the formation of girls-only teams in their presentation to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA). They report that more than 15 states have officially sanctioned girls’ championships, and 61 colleges offer women’s wrestling programs. Even so, only four of these 61 colleges offer D1 programs. With the increase of females joining the programs, colleges and universities will be encouraged to offer more opportunities for female wrestlers. 

The plethora of challenges faced by female members of coed teams would be eliminated through the change to gender-separated programs.