Guest Editorial

A Level Playing - Field
by Guy Lasorsa

One thing must change, we need a level playing field. What do I mean by that? We need National championships which are equally fair to all the armwrestlers competing.

It has been 9 years since I have competed in the sport of armwrestling. After 12 years perhaps I needed a break, but what hurt the most when I left was I thought I couldn't compete anymore to the best of my ability. I felt you couldn't receive your fairest chance to finish at the top with the way the format was run at the Nationals. I thought perhaps I wasn't genetically built right for this sport anymore.

Recently, I was chatting with some fellow New England armwrestlers about the Nationals this year in Nebraska. I heard about some great pullers, some great matches, and some great young talent. I also heard the tournament was run with a lot of class, but yet there was talk about anger and outrage when a weight class with tired competitors were almost forced to go beyond the final 4 in a class. My blood started to boil as once again I was coldly reminded of how I felt during my last couple armwrestling years. I just couldn’t believe they were still running classes down to even the final 4 in a class. Certainly this unfair, ludicrous format would have changed by now.

I have to compare this way of competing at a National tournament to rolling the dice at a casino. It might be your lucky day due to tough matches for opponents, or it may not. This is so unfair to all the armwrestlers who have trained so hard all year, spent their hard earned money to get there, and possibly leave feeling cheated because you know you are better than someone who placed third because you had a tough match and were called back to the table at less than 50 percent of your best.

After talking to many armwrestlers before I left 9 years ago, I know that most competitors hated the twenty minute frenzy that they are thrown in when their weight class is called. With not enough time to recuperate between matches, the best armwrestler doesn't always win or even place. Feeling kind of cheated after competing is no way to help our sport grow.

Is this a fair way to compete? There were a few competitors, a small percent, that didn’t mind the twenty minute frenzied format. Perhaps they have never experienced a round by round championships and I noticed that most of them had one thing in common, they had the right genetic build for this format. They did not have large muscle structures but were rangier, tendon like and didn’t pump up as easy. Which brings me to my point. Having a larger muscle structure is a big disadvantage when your arm doesn't have time to unpump. Even gripping up for 1 minute before your match begins can take it's toll. Is this an unfair advantage? Most of us think so. Let's face it, big or small, a tough match can set you up for failure and the best armwrestler doesn’t always win because of it.

There are hundreds of examples that I could share including a friend who wanted to give up his first place National title several years ago because of this exact problem.

Armwrestling with it’s many power struggles and rules needs very much to be regulated. Lets start with treating our athletes like their hard training and their input means something. Not being thrown into a twenty minute, let's get them out here quickly pool, where some of us go home feeling cheated. Armwrestling is the only sport that does this. The Worlds Strongest Man contest is not like what you see on television, finished in one afternoon. Their eight events are done over a 1 week period with plenty of rest between events. In baseball when you hit a home run you don’t get right back up to the plate immediately. Even power lifting has a new rule where if you try a lift and fail you have the right to wait till the class comes around again before making a second attempt. So why can't we have a fair chance too? It's not a question of training hard either, it's a question of the luck of the draw and who is fatigued from this way of armwrestling.

Like every other sport, armwrestling used to have (some organizations still do) a level playing field. We need it back, a fair chance for everyone. After all is this a sport for the armwrestlers or just a business? When considering issues, shouldn't our input and needs be among the most important things to consider? We need classes run round by round, one match per class per competitor. This was the old way and the only real fair way to find your true champions. With this type of format armwrestlers will be more interested in the tournament. They will be around the stage focused if they know what to expect. We will be tuned into the competition rather than in the hallway or back of the room bored because your chance in the twenty minute frenzy won't start for a few hours.

A tournament would not take any longer to run when the armwrestlers are ready and know what to expect. This has been proven.

Pressure and time renting should never be a factor in the Nationals. There is plenty of room for negotiations with hotels, nor should the shuffling of the sheets be an excuse either. Haven't we learned anything after all these years?

Clearly bringing this format back will be great for armwrestling and fair to everyone who would like their best chance to place in the Nationals. So it's not how hard you train or even how your genetically built. We simply need a level playing field, which is all anyone could want when we invest our time, blood, guts and money to compete in a National or World Championship.

Guy Lasorsa



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