Should Wrestlers Be Encouraged To Cut Weight Rapidly
Content Warning to Readers: Talking and explaining about eating disorders and weight.
How far would you go to become the best in your sport? Would you work out to the extreme? Would you overwork yourself and even develop extremely unhealthy eating habits? Shockingly, wrestlers would easily say yes to these questions. People and athletes consider lowering weight just a part of wrestling. Wrestlers usually cut weight to drop down to a lower weight class to gain an advantage of wrestling a weaker opponent, or because of the team’s weight-class lineup needs. Wrestlers tend to starve, gag, and even dehydrate themselves to achieve anything to cut a few pounds off before a match. These actions lead to horrible effects such as eating disorders, ruining growing stages/puberty, increased heart rate, dizziness, collapse, and many more.
Going to extreme measures to cut weight comes with risky factors, like developing an eating disorder. The American Psychiatric Association defined an eating disorder as illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become preoccupied with food and their body weight. Normally, when wrestlers starve themselves for about 1 or 2 weeks, they will binge the week after the match. This can lead to developing eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder. A study on male high school students found a greater percentage of behaviors consistent with bulimia happened were among male wrestlers. Think about how most people that remain connected with the sport of wrestling could increase their chances of being associated with an eating disorder. The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that 33% of male athletes in aesthetic sports (bodybuilding, gymnastics, swimming) and weight-class sports (wrestling, rowing) appear affected by eating disorders. These numbers keep increasing every single day, and we have to do something about it now.
To wrestlers who get used to this type of sport, losing 2-10 pounds a day may seem normal, however, the actions they do to lose these numbers off the scale conclude to become severely damaging. These athletes will purposely starve, gag, and even dehydrate themselves to reach a certain weight before a tournament. Michael Burr, a former high school wrestler, stated “ I did lots of stuff that I shouldn't have done. I wrestled in a 155 class when I should have competed in 190. I would gag myself, eat twice a week and lose up to 15 pounds a practice."Comparing this number to a regular weight loss plan, it typically takes around 2-4 months to safely lose 15 pounds, and wrestlers do it in less than a week. “The biggest risk is dehydration,” said West athletic trainer Garth McFarland. “There have been several deaths throughout the country. Major organs are affected: kidney, brain function, and other organ failure are what causes death. Many wrestlers who are dehydrating themselves are going even further past the 2% dehydration mark.” This is absolutely terrifying. Everyone’s body needs proper hydration and nutrition, especially those who happen to continue growing. Malnutrition can increase the chances of ruining the growth development of athletes and students.
Regardless, we can still help stop the numbers from growing. Those that decide to choose to harm themselves, whether it’s by starving or over-exercising, may fully be unaware of it. We can help those individuals as a team. For example, those that appear in the early stages of developing an eating disorder may ignore it or deny they need help. You and I can help prevent this by learning the facts, get to recognize the signs of an early eating disorder. If you identify the warning signs of an eating disorder in a friend or family member, it’s critical to speak up. I believe another significant thing that can help includes increasing the time given to wrestlers to hit a certain weight. If a wrestler receives more time to cut weight, they will most likely lose it in a safe and sustainable way. Simply caring about the situation carries out as a huge help to those certain individuals.
We never know the hopelessness of having people encourage you to cut weight rapidly until it happens to us. Wrestlers should most certainly not have people support them to look at the number on the scale and on lowering it. Although some people may argue all of this comes with the sport, sports should become something we enjoy, not something we get something damaging out of. We need to help our friends, our family, our peers, and those around us, calling for our help and stop this global situation now.