ENTERTAINMENT

College Wrestling Holds National Tournament Despite Coronavirus Danger

The executive director said the championship operated "on faith rather than fear."

What coronavirus pandemic? The National Collegiate Wrestling Association defied the urgings of health officials and held its national championship over the weekend in Allen, Texas. (See images below.)

“I think a lot of this is driven by fear,” Jim Giunta, the association’s executive director, told the Dallas Morning News. “We’re going to do everything in our power to create an environment that’s more than safe for our athletes. But after we do everything we can do, we’re going to operate on faith rather than fear.”

The event featured dozens of colleges, including UCLA, Ohio State and Texas A&M, and hundreds of athletes under the auspices of the NCWA, which “operates outside the NCAA” for many in-transition and club college programs, For the Win noted. 

Coaches in attendance applauded the organizers for holding the tournament, completely ignoring the NCAA’s cancellation of its Division I Wrestling Championships, March Madness basketball tournaments, plus all spring sport postseason championships. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises cancellation of gatherings of more than 50 people to prevent the spread of the virus. 

UT- Arlington coach Collin Stroner said his concern about COVID-19 was “on the back burner.” “I’m really proud that we’re keeping this act on,” Stroner told the Morning News.

“From a philosophical perspective, do I think it’s overhyped? Yes, I do,” said Liberty University coach Jesse Castro. “I refuse to live in fear. I’m not gonna do that.”

Liberty won the Division I men’s division and Schreiner won the women’s division.

The CDC and other governing bodies have strongly discouraged large gatherings to slow the spread of the virus, which has now sickened more than 170,000 worldwide and killed at least 6,500. It has also encouraged social distancing ― hard to do when you’re grappling with someone.

As precautionary measures, the tournament said it would bar athletes with a fever of more than 100.4 degrees, but nobody’s temperatures were taken, according to the Morning News. In addition, referees were prohibited from raising the hands of the victors.

Several schools dropped out of the tournament, USA Today noted.