The Bryant Blog: Life, Wrestling, Pop Culture

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Archive for August 8th, 2008

Kicking off …

Things are still hectic in the wonderful world that is my life. I’ve decided to keep the wrestling blog, but only will be adding some additional elements to it. Sure, my life revolves around wrestling, but there’s other things I enjoy discussing that have indirect ties one way or another.

I start this on a new computer, having turned over the old machine to the NWCA for Jeff Breese to now man the controls. I made a note in W.I.N. about Jeff’s hiring and he’ll do a fine job. He’s already been tossed to the wolves with interviews from Penn State’s newspaper and then quickly submitting picks for TheMat.com’s Journalist panel.

Last year in Baku, my second World Championships, I didn’t fare so hot on the picks. Then again, maintaining balance rather than showing favoritism is crucial, because you fans love to pick us apart. So I’ve thrown my picks out and I expect either Gary Abbott or Craig Sesker to post them shortly.

Eddie Goldman of No Holds Barred has called inquiring about the Wrestling 411 stuff, I figure I’ll give him a call here in the coming hours and fill him in on the details.

Right now, I’m sitting in my dad’s kitchen in Poquoson, Va., the town I claim as home. Tonight, I’ll be going to a concert with my younger sister and will see the 2 Skinnee J’s for the 25th time on one of their reunion tours. 

Yes, I’ve seen the band (now) 24 times, with the most recent coming Wednesday as I drove from Lancaster down to D.C. at the legendary 9:30 Club. I saw a couple of JMU wrestling alums, one of which, Jim Dutrow, coaches at Langley H.S. up in Northern Virginia. When I’d announce tournaments, I’d always drop in some 2SJ and he was one of the coaches who would always notice.

I’m stoked to watch the Olympics, but I’ve still got a week to wait before wrestling hits the air. I’m curious to see how much coverage the NBC family of networks will be showing, especially when it comes to wrestling. I remember four years ago, staying up until three and four in the morning to watch just one match.

I haven’t really discussed a whole lot about what the Wrestling 411 position essentially means, but it’s a move into a direction I’ve wanted to head towards. Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to be in sports broadcasting. Starting with a local scoreboard show in high school and on to college as the director of ODU’s college radio station, I’ve been prepping myself towards a career in broadcasting.

Writing was a logical way of staying on that course and staying involved in sports, and specifically wrestling. The InterMat position was a great thing for me personally and professionally. Five years ago, I wasn’t much of anything other than another college student running a high school wrestling web site and announcing tournaments. Now, I guess …

This position also gives me similar travel, but like a lot of start-up collectives, this is grass roots and is going to involve some work. One of my main goals with the show is making wrestling fans out of everyone, but not always just starting at the non-wrestling fan, we have to get the wrestling community to hit the show.

I will point to my own upbringing in the sport as an example. Not every high school wrestler or high school wrestling coach follows college and Olympic wrestling. That scope of wrestling needs to include the casual wrestler and encompass everyone.

When I started wrestling, I couldn’t name a single wrestler from any college team. I’d “heard” names, but I didn’t have any resources to learn more outside of talking with my high school coach or some of the more elite guys on the team at Poquoson who had posters of the Brands Brothers, Dan Gable, John Smith, et al on their walls.

How many wrestlers, the average kid who comes out between football and track or baseball, actually follows the sport beyond the state’s borders? Some states are exceptions, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, but do wrestlers in Virginia want to wrestle for the Cavaliers or Hokies or Monarchs? Probably not. Do wrestlers in Iowa want to wrestle for the ‘Clones and Hawks? I’d believe that ratio is much, much higher than my home state.

What am I getting at? Providing a product in which the casual wrestling fan will catch and understand and become a fan of the next level. It’s all well and good to continue to provide news and content to a group of wrestling fans looking for such, but this will allow the sport of wrestling to get into the living rooms of the casual fan and make them more a fan outside of just their high school wrestling booster club.

I was announcing the Virginia AAA state championships two or three years ago in Fairfax and I’d mentioned Nick Simmons of Michigan State to draw a comparison on how tight a spladle was on one of the mats. A person working the tournament, who was a father of two high school wrestlers, said “Who?”

“Nick Simmons, three-time All-American for Michigan State?” (NOTE: He was on the way to a fourth placement at the time, so as I say “three-time,” it’s accurate).

“I don’t follow college,” was the reply and therein lies the problem.

 Getting more fans from the high school realm to the college and international realm will put more fans in the seats, make wrestling more viable to networks to put on live duals (such as Iowa-Oklahoma State last year, which NEEDED to be on national tv), and will continue to improve the visibility of the sport.

That’s all I’ve got right now, but this blog is going to have a simple mantra — Life, Wrestling and Pop Culture.

Written by Jason Bryant

August 8, 2008 at 2:30 pm