Going To The Mat For All Female Wrestlers
Ever since Marina can remember, wrestling has been a central part of her life and her identity. When she enrolled in college at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the wrestling coach and the wrestlers, all of whom were men, warmly welcomed her because they knew she could help the team win. But right now, as the wrestling season begins, she has to sit on the bench the entire regular season — simply because she's a woman.
That’s because the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA), which governs club wrestling in college, has a discriminatory rule banning women from wrestling against men in either competitions or practice. Because there are no other women who wrestle in the entire Great Lakes Conference, the NCWA’s rule means she has no opportunity to compete during the entire regular season. The only time the NCWA allows her to wrestle is in the national championships at the very end of the year, where women’s wrestling teams — mostly from the east and west coasts — participate.
She has competed against male wrestlers her entire life because there are so few female wrestlers in the Midwest. She can remember wrestling tournaments in middle and high school where there were over 400 male athletes and her, the only woman. And she usually won.
The NCWA’s rule is simply unfair. High schools across the country allow women to wrestle men when there is no women’s wrestling team, and so does the NCAA. So she could fight in the military to defend our country side by side with men, but she can’t compete against them in collegiate wrestling? There is no excuse for the NCWA to keep her off the mat while she watches her male teammates compete.
The ACLU, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Women’s Sports Foundation recently sent a letter to the NCWA on her behalf, arguing that preventing her from competing also violates the law. All she asks is to be permitted to wrestle during the regular season as well as at nationals against her male peers.