March 15, 2012
Topic: Injury prevention
In light of the upcoming NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, University of Missouri wrestling coach Brian Smith looked back on the 15 years since the NCAA Wrestling Committee changed the rules regarding weight loss, as reported by St. Louis Today. These injury prevention measures were implemented in response to the deaths of three wrestlers within a span of 33 days in 1997.
"The kids would focus on the scale instead of wrestling," Smith told the news source. "They would worry about how much weight they had to lose versus how to improve technique."
Before the rule changes, it was common for wrestlers to resort to extreme weight loss methods in order to qualify for certain weight classes before a match. Athletes would vomit, fast, exercise in saunas and use sweat suits to induce dehydration.
In extreme cases, dehydration can cause fatigue, lethargy, seizures, brain damage and death, according to the National Institutes of Health.
In 1997, the NCAA banned the use of sweatsuits, diuretics and sweat rooms. Furthermore, they made it more difficult to move in between weight classes and set limits on how much weight an individual can lose in a week.
Smith believes that the rise in high school participation since 1999 can be attributed in part to parents' attitudes toward the NCAA modifications.
Currently, Smith is advocating for the use of saliva tests to measure hydration levels, as well as being able to enter more than one athlete into a weight class for competition.
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