To Protect Or To Not Protect
In Wrestling, at the middle school, high school, and college level you are to wear protective headgear to protect your ears, and to reduce blows to your head. Often times, you buy whichever one you see first or see other teammates or wrestlers wearing. Most brands claim that theirs is the best, that it is the most comfortable fitting and protective, but come to find out as you buy them and put them on for the first time, you have this piece of plastic rubbing and scratching the side of your head and jolted around during every match and practice. Often times during wrestling, there are multiple blows to the head, ears, and your head is moved around in uncomfortable positions and headgear can even be used as leverage or something to grab onto by your opponent. Constantly, that piece of plastic that is covering your head and ears is moving around rubbing and moving and being bashed against you. Eventually, you are left with a swelling in your ear that is painful to the touch, and you have to get it drained. Some may see it as a cool battle scar and the rest will see it as a very painful swelling that is just another thing they have to mentally block out on the mat.
While in Olympic Wrestling, you do not see a single wrestler wearing headgear. 7 out of the 12 wrestlers on the National Team for the United States do not suffer from cauliflower ear, while the other 5 do. None wear headgear while wrestling. NBC Olympics opens with “light kneepads are permitted, but ear guards and headgear are forbidden” due to safety reasons. This is because often times headgear may negate some of the blows to the ear but it can also cause it, and can also cause abrasions and other injuries to the wrestler and his or her opponents. This is also because it can be used as leverage for your opponent or the wrestler, by having something to grab onto or having something hard to press against your opponent in already uncomfortable positions. As well with Olympic Boxing, headgear was also ditched at the Rio Olympics in 2016, for the first time since 1984. The decision to ban headgear came from the International Boxing Association, claiming it comes down to safety. The AIBA also claims “Headgear makes it tougher to see, so boxers can’t dodge as well. Or perhaps headgear creates a false sense of safety and boxers take more risks” this also applies to wrestlers. While wearing headgear, it gives a false sense of safety or security and wrestlers will bash their ears against each other or deal blows to the ears with no regards to the other, thinking nothing will come of it, resulting in the painful throbbing sensation of cauliflower ear, which only gets resolved by the use of a drainage system.
While watching Olympic Wrestling, high school wrestling, and middle school wrestling, there are two major differences. The use of headgear, and the amount of cauliflower ear. In high school wrestling, head gear was prominently worn especially during matches and practices. In the Varsity line-up, 7/13 wrestlers had suffered from cauliflower ear for Cherry Hill East, while 7 out of 12 wrestlers in the Olympics for the United States did not suffer from cauliflower ear, the only difference is the use of headgear. The protective plastic coverings from wrestling headgear can be extremely annoying and often cause just as much damage as it offers protection. With this, it is also one of the main reasons why wrestlers obtain cauliflower ear. It is uncomfortable to begin with and can cause abrasions, bruising, and even open cuts by the ear and side of the head. Often, these can get infected or eventually if not cleaned and treated sooner than later, can become infected and turn into some kind of skin condition, which takes the wrestler off the mat for a much longer duration of time. BJJ World wrote that “No need to wear those plastic ear guards that annoy both you and your training partner any longer.” In Jiu Jitsu, headgear allows for different materials to be used such as nylon or neoprene, “they’re extremely lightweight, while still offering more protection than heavier-duty old-school ones” also allowing for more adjustable options through different straps on top and on the bottom, different from those of wrestling headgear with adjustable options only on the top depending on what form of headgear you purchase, some don’t come with this option at all allowing for slippage and a fit that isn’t firm, instead being extremely loose, which also leads to injuries to the wrestler.
Frequently, many wrestlers do not mind the look or effects of cauliflower ear and consider the look desirable, “he said he considers it a symbol of his dedication to the sport.” (Malloy). While many wrestlers see it this way, after having to get cauliflower ear drained over and over again and the permanent look or even death of the ear, many wrestlers regret it. After the third or fourth time of getting a needle or syringe plunged into your ear and sucking out all the blood and fluid it isn’t as much fun anymore. Headgear most of the time is very restrictive. As well as giving your opponent a slight advantage over you by giving them something to grab and hold onto to shake you around a little extra. Without headgear, you may lose the slight protection it gives you but then you also have the freedom to evasively move without the grip of your opponent on your head, it is much harder to grab the ear than a large bulky piece of plastic after all. Mayes continues and says “‘A hundred years ago, farmers working out in the fields didn’t have gloves, so their hands would become calloused. People called them working-man’s hands,’ Mayes said. “I think cauliflower ear is the same thing, just with wrestling.” Almost like a simple callous, just a little added pain and damages with repetitive medical treatment.
While focusing on the differences between different levels of competition and the use of headgear in each of them, the pros and cons of headgear and the effect headgear has on cauliflower ear is shown. While it may offer some protection, the cons of wearing it and in many competitive events it has been removed due to safety reasons. Without headgear, cases of cauliflower ear in wrestling and other contact sports trends downwards.
Zhang, S. (2016, August 10). Why olympic boxers aren’t wearing headgear anymore. Wired. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.wired.com/2016/08/olympic-boxers-arent-wearing-headgear-anymore/
BJJ World. (2022, January 19). BJJ headgear: Do ear guards help with cauliflower ear? BJJ World. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://bjj-world.com/bjj-headgear-cauliflower-ear-help/
Malloy, Q. (n.d.). Missouri wrestlers weigh in on cauliflower ear. The Maneater. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://themaneater.com/wcauliflowerear014/
As an indication of how quickly a writer can lose an audience, Slow, let me offer this example:
You spent the first paragraph carefully and very effectively demonstrating that headgear that is SUPPOSED TO protect the ear from damage very possibly DAMAGES the ear. You leave it to our imagination to decide whether ears that are battered and scraped by headgear would suffer EVEN MORE DAMAGE if the headgear were absent, so we’re not quite ready to abandon the whole idea that headgear might be beneficial, but we sure don’t think they’re flawless. That’s a good start for your argument.
But then, in four sentences, you squander your advantage. You’re attempting to create a clear and persuasive comparison between school wrestlers and Olympic wrestlers. That impulse is a good one. The result? You tell us that Olympic wrestlers don’t wear headgear. A clear difference. You tell us that roughly half of your comparison team suffer from cauliflower ear. NOT a clear difference. You haven’t mentioned cauliflower ear yet, so we don’t know anything about it at the scholastic level. We don’t know whether you mean that 5 out of 12 is an IMPROVEMENT over 100% suffering or whether it’s a CATASTROPHE caused by the lack of headgear.
When you follow that up with “sometimes it helps and sometimes it hurts” claims, you further confuse us about the direction your argument is headed.
This can partly be solved by starting us off with a bold, clear statement of your premise. TELL US THAT WE’RE GOING TO VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER BEFORE WE START THE TOUR. But it can also be solved along the way, with reiterations of your primary claims, of this sort (I’m making up the comparison):
Don’t let us get halfway through your essay still wondering whether headgear should be worn or not!
Feedback is a conversation, SM. You can have more at any time. But the cost of more is that you revise your work, respond to advice, and ask specific questions about how to proceed.