All I want for Christmas is

By Gary Abbott | Dec. 24, 2002, 12 a.m. (ET)
So, how did that old kids Christmas song go? "All I want for Christmas is... my two front teeth." Something like that? In the spirit of the holiday season, I would like to publish my wish list for wrestling. Actually, since we are are also celebrating the upcoming New Year, Santa is allowed to provide these gifts any time during the 2003 year. Let's make this a wish list for wrestling during the year ahead. All I want for 2003 is... * ...a sold-out World Championships in New York - Picture this. September 14, 2003, every seat in New York's Madison Square Garden sold out, with thousands watching the best freestyle wrestlers in the world battling for medals. Can we dream this big? Why not? * ...Title IX reform - Since June 2002, there has been a heated public battle over the future of Title IX enforcement. Sometime in 2003, the Title IX Commission will complete its work. Sometime after that, the Department of Education might do something about it. Here's hope that those involved have the courage to do the right thing, and eliminate or correct the quota system. * ...a close NCAA Championships finals - Why can't we have one of those nailbiter NCAA Div. I Championships, where we go into the gold-medal matches without knowing which team has won? How about going into the finals matches with two, or three, or even four teams still in the hunt? * ...World Champions in all three styles - With the cutback in weight classes, there are now only 21 gold medals up for grabs in international wrestling each year. In 2003, wouldn't it be great if we can have at least one World Champion in all of the styles - men's freestyle, women's freestyle, men's Greco-Roman? Would it be OK to be greedy and try to get a few in each style? * ...another Sullivan Award winner - Three times since 1990, wrestlers have won the top award in amateur sports, the Sullivan Award. Could 2003 be the time another wrestler comes out on top? Perhaps that Cael kid, the one who had a perfect college career, might join John Smith, Bruce Baumgartner and Rulon Gardner by holding that neat looking trophy in his hands. * ...successful pay-per-view of the World Championships - Right now, USA Wrestling is trying to determine if there is enough interest to sell the World Championships on pay-per-view to those unable to get to New York for the event. All we need is 3,000 people to sign up and let us send wrestling into their homes. All we need is a chance to prove that there are enough wrestling people to make this a winning venture. Sound good to you? Spread the word... * ...NCAA emerging sports status for women's wrestling - It will take 20 club or varsity women's wrestling teams within the NCAA to qualify for emerging sports status for women's wrestling. This might be a bit wishful for 2003. Perhaps the wish should be for more of America's colleges (and college wrestling coaches) to consider adding women's wrestling, and at least listen to the reasons why it makes good sense. * ...a growing and popular e-newsletter - In December 2002, USA Wrestling teamed with the USOC to produce its first e-newsletter (a wrestling publication sent via the e-mail system). The USOC was very pleased with the response to the first issue. In 2003, by building the list of subscribers and improving the product, the USA Wrestling e-newsletter could become a powerful tool for wrestling promotion. * ...the addition of new college wrestling teams - In 2002, Utah Valley State decided to add a college wrestling team. Why not wish for more colleges to see the wisdom of this choice? Maybe, the wrestling community on the local and national level can find another success this coming year, by convincing a new college administration to make room for wrestling on their campus. Certainly, it's worth the effort. * ...another official state girls high school tournament - For the past few years, Texas and Hawaii have been the only states with an official high school girls state wrestling tournament. Well, this is great, but it is long overdue to add another state to this list. How about California? or Michigan? or Minnesota? What's so hard to understand about the value of wrestling for everyone, including our high school girls? * ...a great time in Boise at the World Cup - A new city will be hosting the Freestyle World Cup in April, Boise, Idaho. I've heard that wrestling is a big deal around there. How about a big crowd and some tremendous action at this annual dual-meet extravaganza? A U.S. team victory would also be nice, as would be a number of individual gold medalists. * ...another USA Wrestling membership record - Coming off 2001-2002, the most successful membership season ever for USA Wrestling, why not move the records a little farther? With new and expanded programs for our members, as well as a hard-working team of dedicated state leaders, there's no reason that USA Wrestling can't break records every year, right? * ...a success in Indianapolis at the World Team Trials. With a strong USA Wrestling state organization and a very active wrestling community within driving distance, this year's World Team Trials in Indianapolis could set a new level for this exciting (but under-developed) wrestling event. With the Olympic Trials also in Indy in 2004, why not see the same kind of tremendous action there a year in advance? * ...a step forward for - Already one of the most active and successful sports web pages in the nation, has established a foothold in the wrestling community. However, as the page continues to mature, and more of wrestling's needs are met on the page, wouldn't it be nice if truly became "the ultimate source for real wrestling?" * ...better weight management for all - Although wrestling has taken great strides in cleaning up weight cutting in the sport, it would be insincere to say that this problem has been completely solved. With another year of education, as well as a stronger commitment from everybody in the sport, wouldn't it be great if we actually changed the culture of the sport for good? * ...Vegas fun for everyone. With the U.S. Nationals back in Las Vegas, and in a much better hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center, why not wish for the most successful U.S. Nationals, Veterans Nationals and Western Junior Regionals event of all time? * ... a wrestler on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In my years working in communications at USA Wrestling, pretty much all of my goals for our sport have been reached, or at least advanced forward. However, it seems wrong that the last and only wrestler on the cover of Sports Illustrated was Dan Hodge. That was back in the 1950's, my gosh. If somehow, somebody within wrestling was able to make such a powerful impact on the national sports scene to merit this magazine cover, maybe 2003 will be the year. Please, please Sports Illustrated, give us a chance just one more time... We all have our dreams, don't we? Well, these are some of mine. Happy holidays!!! (Anybody who wants to share their wish list for wrestling for the year ahead is encouraged to send them to me at If I get enough of these, and they are interesting enough, perhaps we can do another column with your list of wrestling wishes)