Friday, February 28, 2014

What Wrestlers Think About a Shirtless Uniform Option

A survey was recently conducted by someone from the Wrestling Uniform Options movement about proposed alternatives to the singlet. The results were shared with me and they were quite interesting. 50% of wrestlers said they would have been less hesitant to get into the sport if they had alternative uniform options available, and 27% of non-wrestlers said they would be more likely to participate.

The options that were proposed included compression shorts or loose fit shorts, either with a rash guard or shirtless, in addition to the traditional[1] singlet. When asked which of these they would personally wear if given the choice, by far the most popular choice was compression shorts with no shirt, preferred 2 to 1 over the singlet. Some had suggested that loose fit shorts would make some self-concious guys more comfortable, but that didn't seem to be a big concern in this survey. Only 15% favored the loose fit shorts and even these preferred shirtless 2 to 1 over a rash guard. Overall, 2 out of 3 preferred to wrestle shirtless.

In a different approach, the question was asked what uniform options they would not want to be allowed. The most opposed option was loose fit shorts, with 55% saying they would have this option disallowed. To be fair, the survey did not specify loose fit shorts that are designed for grappling, sturdy shorts with a drawstring and reasonably fitted, so some of that objection may have been directed against baggy shorts with no drawstring that are more likely to get in the way or slide down. Only about 5% wanted to disallow compression shorts and singlet, thus requiring loose fit shorts. Less than 1 in 5 opposed a shirtless option, and almost as many opposed rash guards and singlets saying that all guys should be required to compete shirtless.

One commenter shared his thoughts, “I am in favor of singlets for tradition and utility, though I find tradition the least compelling reason to just keep the current standard. To wit, compression shorts or other gear that maintains the utility of the singlet (giving referees and spectators the best, clearest view of bodies in quick, close motion and reducing opportunities for grabbing) is, in my opinion, just as good.

Overall, the consensus was to allow guys the choice of singlet, compression shorts, and optionally a rash guard (but possibly not loose fit shorts); with most personally choosing to wear compression shorts with no shirt. It seems there is a lot of interest in a shirtless uniform, but are there enough guys who are willing to push for it to make it happen?

This was not a scientific survey (participants were self-selected, not random, which may bias the results), so it would be interesting to see this replicated scientifically and on a larger sample. Perhaps one of the governing bodies of wrestling might conduct a more rigorous survey, or a media outlet or other interested party. Of course, someone could also run a campaign and collect small donations from a number of people who might be interested in seeing the results. If enough readers are interested in contributing, I would consider doing this for the blog, but it would be done through a neutral research firm to get unbiased results.

1 comment:

  1. I never actually did wrestling in school, but the idea of a shirtless uniform seems sensible to me. At my school there was a system where boys were divided into teams for the first PE lesson, typically shirts, skins and two others wearing different coloured bibs. Those teams remained the same for the entire term but they rotated uniforms every few weeks – so if you started out in colours you later moved to shirts, then to skins, and so on. It didn’t really matter if we were playing basketball, soccer or even no team game at all – that was the system and every boy had to wear each uniform in turn.
    That meant at some stage during each term you got used to wearing a PE uniform that consisted just of shorts, gym socks and training shoes with no top. Personally I think it was a great system for helping me, and several other boys, to feel comfortable about doing sport shirtless and probably a lot more confident about our bodies in general.
    In some ways skins was the most practical uniform because it was easier to pick out your team-mates on the field or the basketball court and also, especially in summer, it could be a relief to be without a shirt when you were drenched with sweat. I think if schools now used the system we had and boys had to play in skins for a certain period of time, a lot of them would choose to stay shirtless later on.