So my son has found himself a new sport that he absolutely positively truly loves doing – youth wrestling. Now he is very much a newbie and has not won any matches or tournaments. He does it simply because he enjoys it. I have even asked him a few times if he like this sport and he always says yes. I always ask that question when he tried something new to be sure it right for him and that he is not dong things just because he think we want him to do them.
But, one trend that I have seen that is very disturbing to me is this the “making weight” issue.
I want to start by saying not all wrestlers / wrestling parents are falling into this danger zone I am about to discuss, but as a mothers and nutritionist this is a topic I feel that I need to address to draw some attention to a potentially harmful practice taking place in this youth sport. I have seen children denied food, not allowed to drink stuff, some of them are so underweight for what should be normal for them that you can count every rib as they pass you by in the gym. THIS is what I am about to address.
There is no sport on earth that would ever have myself or my husband push our child to or encourage him to starve himself in order to produce a win. This is simply an extremely faulty way of thinking that can have severe health effects up to and including death. No trophy, medal, belt or rank should EVER be more important that the health of a child.
If your child is in a sport that weight plays a role you MUST work with that child’s physician to be sure you have that child maintaining a healthy weight and you should never be trying to make them skinnier than they should be in order to “make weight” to dominate a certain weight class to produce a win. Did you know that physicians are more likely to encounter problems because of weight loss due to wrestling than in any other sport?
According to LiveStrong “Although most wrestlers use weight cutting as a tool for competitive success and restrict themselves to the “best practices” of water weight loss and calorie restriction, Vanderbilt cited 1995 research that found that as many as 8 percent of competitive wrestlers used purging and 75 percent used frequent fasting to drop pounds. In any other high school students, those practices would be called bulimia and anorexia.”
As a result of these practices these children are subject to organ damage at an alarming rate of 75% of them! Let me say that again…. SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT of these children end up having organ damage! Is a win really worth that? This practice has also been studied and those studies showed that these wrestlers had decreased short-term memory, vigor, concentration and self-esteem as well as increased confusion, rage, fatigue, depression and isolation.
Have you ever heard the names Billy Saylor? JosephLaRosa? Jeff Reese? Well they were all wrestlers using dehydration/starvation methods to make weight and they are all now dead. Victims of this ridiculous practice that people feel somehow gives them an advantage.
Cutting weight aka making weight has significant adverse effects. The magnitude of this weight loss trend is wrestling is overwhelming and very well documented. Do you want your child dominate on the mat? Then do it right. Have them learn the techniques required of them to produce that pin. Teach then nutrition that will make them a better wrestler by giving them more strength and energy and give them a better body for a lifetime – remember “nutrition can make a good athlete great or a great athlete good”. But please please please stop starving these children.