Female Grappling Considered As NCAA Emerging Sport

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Respectful of the dynamic energy that organized competitive female grappling exudes, many felt it was just a matter of time that the discipline would be considered as a NCAA Emerging Sport.

Thankfully that time is now.

As reported on July 26, 2019 by intermatwrestle.com, “In separate actions this week, the NCAA Division II and Division III Management Councils each recommended that their divisions add women’s wrestling (along with acrobatics/tumbling) to their list of emerging sports for women.”

That is huge. It is extremely hard to be considered an NCAA Emerging Sport.

Progress is always welcome.

NCAA Emerging Sports for Women are intercollegiate women’s sports that are recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, but do not have sanctioned NCAA Championships.

To be considered for Emerging Sport status, the sport must meet the following requirements:

  • The sport meets the NCAA definition of a sport
  • At least 20 varsity or competitive club teams exist at NCAA member schools
  • At least 10 NCAA member schools sponsor or intend to sponsor the sport

The Committee on Women’s Athletics can recommend an emerging sport to become an NCAA Championship sport once 40 NCAA member schools sponsor it. Once added to the Emerging Sports list, a sport has 10 years to achieve NCAA Championship status, after which it may be removed from the list.

Very intriguing. It is time to go to the source to learn more.

At the NCAA website they add, “The Emerging Sports for Women program was created in 1994 based on a recommendation from the NCAA Gender Equity Task Force.

An NCAA survey conducted in the early 1990s showed that 20 years after Title IX was passed, female students had about 30 percent of the athletics participation opportunities offered by NCAA institutions. In 2016-17, female students had 44 percent of athletics participation opportunities but made up 54 percent of the complete undergraduate population on NCAA campuses.

The purpose of this program continues to be to grow meaningful intercollegiate sport participation opportunities for female student-athletes in sports that have the potential to reach the required number of varsity teams to be considered for NCAA championship status.

The Emerging Sports for Women program is managed by the Committee on Women’s Athletics. The committee oversees the application process for applicant emerging sports and recommends to each division through the NCAA governance structure to add or remove sports from the NCAA’s Emerging Sports for Women program. The NCAA governance structure for each division determines which sports are Emerging Sports for Women and votes to establish a National Collegiate Championship or division championship for sports that satisfy legislated requirements.

NCAA legislation allows a National Collegiate Championship or a division championship to be established in an emerging sport if at least 40 NCAA institutions sponsor the sport at the varsity level. A sport is no longer considered an emerging sport once the sport has been established as a championship sport. Further, an emerging sport is limited to a 10-year period to become a championship sport unless it can be demonstrated that steady growth has occurred during that time. NCAA institutions may use emerging sports to satisfy minimum sports-sponsorship requirements for all divisions and minimal financial aid awards for Divisions I and II. If an institution lists an emerging sport on its NCAA sports sponsorship and demographics form, that sport must follow all applicable NCAA rules.

Since the Emerging Sports for Women program was established in 1994, five sports have earned NCAA championship status: rowing (1996); women’s ice hockey (2000); women’s water polo (2000); bowling (2003); and women’s beach volleyball (2015).

The Committee on Women’s Athletics created this process guide in 2016 as a resource for applicants pursuing membership in the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program and for the leadership of current emerging sports.

The Committee on Women’s Athletics manages the Emerging Sports for Women program, and the NCAA staff provides day-to-day support and guidance for emerging sports. The committee regularly reviews the status and progress of emerging sports for women and engages in dialogue with emerging sport representatives.”

That was extremely informative.

What stands out to us the most is that even though girls now make up the majority of the NCAA collegiate population at 54 percent, their ability to secure scholarships has been lagging. Fortunately scholarships for female sports is starting to catch up.

In terms of women’s wrestling, that is great news because the number of colleges that offer women’s wrestling continues to increase.

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There are broader national implications.

The National Center for Education Statistics reported, “The number of female students was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 2006, while the number of male students was 14 percent higher. Although male enrollment increased by a larger percentage than female enrollment between 2006 and 2016, the majority (56 percent) of students in 2016 were female.”

Then there is the matter of post graduate enrollment.

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They add, “Since fall 1988, the number of female students in postbaccalaureate programs has exceeded the number of male students. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of full-time male postbaccalaureate students increased by 22 percent, compared with a 23 percent increase in the number of full-time female postbaccalaureate students. Among part-time postbaccalaureate students, the number of males enrolled in 2016 was 6 percent higher than in 2006, while the number of females was 8 percent higher.”

This is significant as the demographics of the American workforce is continue to shift.

According to National Public Radio, “Women are on track to make up a majority of the college-educated labor force this year, marking a historic turning point in gender parity.

While women have made up a majority of college-educated adults for roughly four decades, that strength has not always been reflected in the work force, where men have traditionally dominated. Men still outnumber women as a percentage of U.S. workers, but the gap has narrowed significantly in recent years.”

As girls wrestlers begin to emerge as a force on the junior and high school levels the transition into collegiate competition is an expected outcome.

On August 26, 2019 USA Wrestling educated, “The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released its 2018-19 High School Participation Survey, and the sport of wrestling has grown in all five categories reported.

The biggest jump within wrestling came in girls wrestling, which grew for its 30th straight year. The number of schools with girls wrestling climbed to 2,890, an increase of 539 schools. This marks a 22.9% increase from the previous year.”

Now in terms of being welcomed into the NCAA with increased scholarship opportunities it is now an emerging probability as well.

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