Broken – Alpha testing and weigh-ins of scholastic wrestlers

Posted on Posted in Opinion, Weight Managment

I'm writing this after reading and re-publishing the post from Attack System Wrestling, On the precipice of a catastrophe: why the sport of wrestling teeters on a dangerous cliff.

I agree with Randy, the system is broken. Many wrestlers cut dangerous amounts of weight because they believe it's necessary to be competitive. Alpha testing has not only failed to stop the problem, but has seemingly made it worse.

ScalesAnd the current system of alpha testing and weigh in procedures (at least here in Ohio) allows it by what appears to be “turning a blind eye.”

I’m sure in the beginning when Alpha testing was first instituted it seemed like a viable plan. But the question is, has anybody bothered to check and see if it actually worked once it was instituted? Is it really enough to discourage unsafe weight cutting and keep athletes safe?

I’m fairly confident if the plan had been ran past a roomful of wrestlers and their dads they could have pointed out all the ways it was going to be a failure. And they could have told you all the ways to cheat the system.

I'd bet the following year after it was made mandatory, every cheating tactic was going on just as it is today.

I'm not saying weight cutting is inherently evil. However, severely dehydrating, starving yourself for a few days (or longer), and a host of other tricks I’ll not even mention here, are harmful and send the wrong message to our athletes and the community.

When people outside the wrestling community hear about the extreme weight cutting tactics being practiced by some athletes they start using words like crazy, abusive, unsafe...

They are absolutely right.

I have had the weight cutting conversation with folks outside our sport. For the most part, when they hear of the unsafe and extreme weight cutting that goes on, they begin to use words like crazy, abusive, unsafe, etc.

That tells me if you step back and look at it logically, it’s pretty clear we’re on the wrong track. Do you know what else it tells me? There is enough extreme weight cutting going on in the wrestling community that many have bought it as normal.

We shrug our shoulders and say things like, “that just how this sport is” or “you have to cut down for the end of the year.”

But the facts are well documented; severe dehydration is a serious health risk. Mix that with hot rooms and heavy clothing and you have the perfect recipe for heat stroke.

Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency. It can cause brain damage or death.

Exposing your child or athlete to this type of health risk is a moral failing. No matter what the justification, it is not right.

So what’s the answer?

I think some sort of same day weigh in would be a step towards solving the problem. Mainly because it has consequences built right in. Cut too much weight and your performance will suffer when it matter s most.

Is it the best answer? I don't know. It's the best one I can think of that will help move us away from athletes cutting excessive weight unsafely.

But to my knowledge, there is not much at all going on concerning this issue other than a certain number of parents, athletes, and coaches recognizing the problem and complaining about it.

And the truth is that's not enough if we are truly concerned about the health and well being of our athletes.

It's time to put action to our words. It's time to engage the powers that be in a conversation. To bring it to light and see what the response is to this issue.

We owe it to our kids. We owe it to Billy Saylor, Joseph LaRosa, and Jeff Reese that lost their lives trying to make weight.

We owe it to our kids. We owe it to Billy Saylor, Joseph LaRosa, and Jeff Reese that lost their lives trying to make weight.


So where do we go from here?

I think the best plan is to chip away at the problem rather than insist on sweeping changes. I doubt we are going to eliminate alpha testing any time soon. Governing bodies believe it does help and they seek to minimize their liability…regardless of whether it works or not.

But how hard would it be to get same day weigh ins established as a mandatory protocol?

Here's what I'm doing.

If you study any effective movement to bring needed change, you see that concerned citizens take certain steps to make it happen.

In the words of Edward Everett Hale, "I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

One of the most common methods is to simply let your voice be heard by contacting the governing body that has the power to change the situation.

So I'm writing a letter and sending it to three organizations here in Ohio:

Ohio High School Athletic Association - Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D.4080 Roselea Place, Columbus, Ohio 43214. Email - dross (at)

USA Wrestling Ohio - Chairperson, Chris Kallai 272 Waverly Avenue Wadsworth, OH 44281 Email - wrestleckallai(at)

Ohio Athletic Committee - Apparently the OAC doesn't want it's address known as you can not find it anywhere. I did find a "request mailing address" on their Facebook page.

Here's what you can do

Send a letter voicing your concerns. Please be sensitive and avoid accusations and personal attacks. Tell them exactly what you think they should consider doing about the issue - Same day weigh ins etc.

Share this post on your social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Ask your friends and family to get involved to help spread the word.

Leave your thoughts below in the comment section.

I provided an email address also but I recommend you send an actual letter by U.S. mail. It sends the message that you are concerned enough to actually take the time to sit down, write a letter, and put it in the mail.

As soon as my letter is written, I will post it here so you can read and use it as a guide to write your own letter if you wish.

Let's do this,


PS: To learn more about this issue:

Amateur wrestling - Dying to make it - weight loss.

New York Times Article

A 2013 article published for Nurse practitioners and Physician Assistants on wrestlers cutting weight.




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