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Original names possible in sports



Published: Tue, January 22, 2013 @ 12:03 a.m.

I’m sure the folks behind the recent Jackson-Milton High School wrestling invitational put on their event for all the right reasons, but I can still recall the first wrestling show I saw.

It was held at the Stambaugh Auditorium in the early 1960s. I think the feature bout sent Haystack Calhoun against Bobo Brazil in a best-of-five falls event.

There were tag-team dwarfs wrestling on the same card too, I’m sure.

Remember, it was a half century ago that my father had us walk to see the Friday evening wrestling show at Stambaugh Auditorium — the same building my grandmother took us to on Sunday mornings to hear the faith healer Katherine Coleman preaching of fire and brimstone.

If you’re now confused by this discussion of high school wrestling and studio wrestling, welcome to the club.

The two events are as far apart as the various uses of Stambaugh Auditorium on a given weekend.

And, I’m left asking this question: How in the name of the WRF did they end up using the same word — wrestling — to describe two activities that are so different?

Could it be that the second group couldn’t come up with an original name so they just borrowed one already in use? Why didn’t they try eggplants, or carpentry or underpants?

It’s a beautiful language. We can’t be out of words already, can we?

Shakespeare covered the use of names much better that I ever will in his play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

He wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other word would smell as sweet.”

I’d be willing to give wrestling a pass if I didn’t watch a football game the other day and became even more confused. I had on a NFL playoff game but I was thinking of the other kind of football, the one we call soccer.

In most of the world football is played with a round ball and the feet. In America football is played with a pointed ball that is frequently run or thrown.

The two games have little in common except sharing one confusing name.

Surely one sport was played first and the second should have been required to adopt an original name. By any other name, Shakespeare would tell you, it’d still be a sweet sport.

But, if you think speaking about the two forms of football is maddening, get into a discussion about softball in the spring.

One form of softball is often played by young girls who pitch the ball quite hard and who use three outfielders.

The second form of softball is usually played by grown men who lob the ball and who use four outfielders.

It’s really two different sports and, for the sake of clarity, they should have two names.

Rugby and basketball found a way to call their activities unique names so players and fans (and sportswriters) could discuss the events in a logical fashion. Why not wrestling, why not football, why not softball?

I guess I should call the NCAA to shed some light on this discussion and to come up with a simple name for these activities.

Of course, those are the people who just gave you the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

Let’s leave them out of it.

Bill Sullivan writes sports at The Vindicator. Write to him at sullivan@vindy.com


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