Question of the Week: Does the IHSA expansion to three classes in wrestling explain the recent increase in programs statewide?
Staff writer Jeff Huth says no
It's tempting to speculate that 47 schools have added wrestling programs in the past two years simply because there are expanded opportunities to qualify for the individual and dual-team state tournaments. But ask any school board member or athletic director about all that is required to start a program, and the lure of trophies and medals ranks low in the decision. New sports or new teams are added to an athletic program not merely because students or their parents have expressed an interest but because the financial and personnel investment can be met and justified. Then there's the issue of facilities. Is there space for a wrestling practice room? Can an existing space be converted for that purpose? And what about working wrestling meets into the current schedule in the main gym. The addition of 47 programs is a healthy sign for wrestling. It indicates more students are interested, and school boards apparently are listening and have the means to accommodate adding the sport. But that decision ultimately comes down not to interest or possible postseason rewards but to the reality of whether it's financially and logistically feasible.