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"Four Days to Glory"

There are a number of discouraging images in "Four Days To Glory."

Take, for example, the mother screaming insults at her five-year-old son as he fails to live up to her expectations on the wrestling mat. Or the high school champion whose idea of sportsmanship is to curse out an opponent who congratulates him after their match. Or the fathers who cheerfully acknowledge that they are living through the achievements of their wrestling sons. Then there is the matter of the teenager who "loved how much it hurt after a hard practice."

Is that the way it's supposed to work?

Mark Kreidler thinks so. "Four Days To Glory" makes his case. The book is a celebration of the hard work and determination of athletes who can't aspire to the greater rewards the best basketball and football players take for granted, even though the wrestlers are as likely as the more celebrated athletes to value their sport above everything else they do. They dramatically lose and re-gain weight as their wrestling requires. They pick their colleges based on who's coaching the wrestling team, then transfer to follow him when the coach gets a job somewhere else.

The most accomplished of the wrestlers about whom Kreidler writes have won four state championships when they graduate from high school.

"They are champions and gods," Kreidler writes, and in the small, self-contained and self-absorbed arena of Iowa wrestling, he's probably right.

This program aired on February 15, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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