Cutting WeightThe practice of "cutting weight" is used on various sports when competitors have to lose weight rapidly, but if done wrong or irresponsibly, it can be extremely dangerous.
By: Rebecca Gilbert , Sibley Scribe
“Cutting weight” is the practice of losing weight rapidly in order to compete in a certain weight class in a sport. In the weeks before an event, some athletes try to shed fat and / or muscle, but some try to lose weight in just a few days (or even a few hours) by shedding water weight. With wrestling becoming more popular as a high school sport, more and more high school boys are “cutting weight” in order to compete. Teenink.com reports that roughly 81% of wrestlers cut weight. This practice, though, can be not only unsafe and destructive, but also fatal in extreme cases.
One of the most common ways of cutting weight is starvation- only drinking water or eating a piece of fruit each day. Some even go as far as self-induced vomiting to lose the weight. Wrestlers account for three-quarters of male athletes with eating disorders due to this practice. Another technique is working out for very long periods of time, bogging themselves down with layers in overheated rooms in order to sweat out the weight. This way of cutting weight can cause hypothermia as the wrestler loses so much sweat that the body can no longer heat itself. In extreme cases, it can lead to kidney and heart failure.
In 1997, three wrestlers died within a month of each other due to their weight cutting. After this happened, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) took steps to prevent this from happening again by banning things like workout rooms being hotter than 80 degrees, self-induced vomiting and fluid restrictions. Some high schools even followed suit by requiring hydration tests and checks of body fat in order to keep wrestlers from taking such drastic measures. Of course, some coaches skip over these practices.
Many wrestlers have learned the hard way that there is no safe or healthy way to cut weight as rapidly as is sometimes expected; some coaches expect their athletes to lose multiple pounds overnight. However, there are healthy ways to lose weight such as eating more vegetables and fruits, and drinking lots of water.
There are, of course, many opinions on the practice of cutting weight, many coaches will state that they follow high school guidelines for weight management, however, it is being found that many ignore these guidelines as a means to win. It is also known that some coaches openly disagree with the standards set by the NCAA, stating that it compromises the sport. Luckily, as wrestling becomes more popular, parents are becoming more involved and beginning to tackle the practice of cutting weight.
Sources for this article are Teenink.com, StLtoday.com, and bloodyelbow.com.