With Women’s Wrestling Comes Great Changes to the World of Wrestling

Sienna Yang, Pawprint Staff Reporter

When one thinks of wrestling, what comes to mind is a male-dominated sport. However, women’s wrestling has become the fastest-growing high school sport for the past thirty years, with as much as 30 percent participation growth in some states, according to teamusa.org.

What exactly makes the sport so popular? For Hillcrest High School freshman Antonia Ingabire, it’s the possibilities of where she could go and what she could do. Coupled with her interest in contact sports (sports that require participants to come in physical contact), it’s a natural fit. “…I saw that wrestling was more of a male-dominated sport, so I’m all like, ‘Maybe I should try this, as a female. Maybe I could be as good as the boys, maybe better.”

Typically, when a new sport is announced, there’s a competition to go with it. This is true for women’s wrestling. When a separate branch specifically for a new gender is announced, there are also changes to the rules. Again, this also applies to women’s wrestling.

One of the changes includes a change in the hair length rule. It was previously banned that hair length drop below the earlobe, but following the introduction of women’s wrestling, it was changed so that hair must be tied up if it hangs below the earlobe. This allows for better self-expression throughout the tournament.

Another is the introduction of a new legal uniform for women. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations website, “Weighing-in with a [woman’s] legal uniform allowed the Committee to break down more gender barriers…”, which in turn provides more opportunities for participants to be themselves while wrestling.

However, not all changes are necessarily liked by the community. For example, according to nysed.gov, men will not participate in women’s wrestling tournaments. Whether it be from changed rules or stereotypical gender norms, it doesn’t change that it is somewhat unfair to the athletes.

“Honestly speaking, if they both agreed to it, saying they wanted to go against each other, I think it’s unfair to not let them go at it with each other if they wanted to,” expresses Ingabire.

On the other hand, she offers another reasonable argument: some people may not want to go against the opposite gender. They are restricting who can apply where safeguards this. “They feel like they’re safe in that place where [girls] can go only against girls…”.

There are a lot of sides to women’s wrestling, and as it is a relatively new branch of wrestling, there are a fair amount of kinks to work out in the system. However, given the rapidly growing popularity of women’s wrestling, the problems will be worked out, likely sooner than later.