This past year the State of Minnesota Elected Al Franken to the United States Senate. Some of you may or may not know that Senator Franken does have a connection to the sport of wrestling. From 1966-69 Senator Franken was a member of the Blake High School Wrestling team. Blake is a private school located just outside of Minneapolis.
TOM contacted the Senator to discuss his experiences as a wrestler and to ask him some questions about Title IX. We all know about the adverse effect that Title IX has had on the sport of wrestling. Some 121 programs have been eliminated and many point to Title IX or at lest the implementation of it as the primary culprit.
TOM submitted a full list of questions to the Senator, but was informed that he currently only had time to address a few of the questions. TOM has requested that when the Senator does have some extra time that he addresses the rest of the questions submitted. We respect his time and appreciate that the Senator took the time to speak with us.
Below the Senator discuss wrestling and touches on his position on how Title IX is currently be implemented.
TOM: So you wrestled for Hopkins High School from 1966-69, could you tell us about your most memorable experience?
SF: I actually wrestled for Blake, which is in Hopkins. I remember sophomore year was the first year I wrestled â€“ and this was one of my very first matches. And the guy kept getting me in the guillotine â€“ which you know is one of the most painful holds, but difficult for the guy to pin you. So I remember being in tremendous pain for almost the entire match.
I also got a concussion once, but I donâ€™t remember much about it.
Oh, and I won some matches too. I remember being behind by a lot with a minute left and then pinning the guy. The crowd went nuts.
TOM: One thing you hear from many wrestlers is that wrestling made them who they are today, also that it teaches people a great set of life skills. What are some of the things that you took away from participating in the sport?
SF: Obviously wrestling is an individual sport, so while there is team camaraderie, when youâ€™re on the mat it comes down to you. So things like discipline and finding resources within yourself are some of the things every wrestler comes away with.
TOM: Are you still a fan of the sport? Do you keep tabs on any programs?
SF: Iâ€™m a huge fan of the sport and watch it whenever thereâ€™s college wrestling on tv â€“ but I donâ€™t keep abreast of the U of M program as much as I should. Weâ€™ve got a great program with a great coach and a great team. I really should get out on the mat and teach them a few things â€“ like how to get trapped in a guillotine.
TOM: Title IX or at least the way it has been applied has had some disastrous effects with 121 programs dropped in our sport. What is your position on Title IX? Furthermore what is your position on the current application or for some (misapplication) of Title IX?
AF: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on this a couple years ago, and they found an increase in the number of men’s and women’s college sports teams and participants in the past two decades. More men play college baseball and football now than two decades ago. There are more college men’s ice hockey and cross country teams. And at the same time we had substantial increases in the number of women playing collegiate basketball, track, soccer, golf and many other sports. We’ve had Mia Hamm, Venus and Serena Williams, and Lisa Leslie. Title IX has been doing its job, and I think that’s a good thing for girls and women and a good thing for sports fans.
Now, the GAO did find a decrease in the number of men’s college wrestling teams. Men’s wrestling was the only sport showing that trend, and we don’t know what caused that. But since female participation in sports has increased enormously in recent years, if we want more student athletes participating in wrestling, it might be time to focus more effort on recruiting talented female athletes to wrestling.
Again we would like to thank the Senator for his time.
By: TOM Staff