A Big Win and Bigger Losses for the Nebraska-Omaha Wrestling Program

University of Nebraska at Omaha athletic director Trev Alberts cut the wresting program much to the dismay of the current champions. (AP)
University of Nebraska at Omaha athletic director Trev Alberts cut the wresting program much to the dismay of the current champions. (AP)

I am not a fan of wrestling, which seems to me goofy when the combatants are inflated and wearing make-up and hitting each other over the head with chairs, and kind of dull when they are rolling around on a mat without the make-up and the chairs.

Even so, I do not think what happened last weekend to the young men who wrestle on behalf of the University of Nebraska at Omaha should happen to anybody, even if what they have been doing is perceived by me as goofy or dull.

What that team did on Saturday was they won the NCAA Division II Championship, which they had also won during the two previous years, as well as six times during the past eight seasons, but apparently winning the championship had not become routine at all, because when the phone rang, the wrestlers were celebrating. They were celebrating by eating pizza, which wrestlers, who have been known to be very careful about their weight, probably eat with great enjoyment, once they no longer have to worry, since they have won the championship, and in the morning nobody is going to require them to step on a scale.

But the phone rang, and on the other end was the Director of Athletics for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and what he said to the champs was something like it is a very good thing indeed that you won everything this year, because had you needed to wait until next year to win everything, you would have been out of luck, since your sport has been cut.

Colleges and universities cut and add sports all the time, and wrestling has been one of the ones getting cut more often than lots of others, which would trouble me more if I were a fan of wrestling. But wrestling fan or not, who would not agree that you should not have your pizza-fueled celebration of a national championship cut short by a phone call about how your team is no longer?

Maybe something good came of that phone call. There may have been a University of Nebraska at Omaha wrestler or two who thought to himself, "Now I can eat all the pizza I want forever, because who cares what I weigh?" and somebody else on the team might have been happy that nobody would care if he handed in his uniform, since he'd lost it.

I like to think there were some wrestlers who were thinking that way, because otherwise learning by means of a phone call that your sport has been cut while you are eating pizza with the teammates alongside whom you have just won a national championship must be unanimously disconcerting.

This program aired on March 17, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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