Bye Bye Backflips

NSAA bans wrestlers from backflipping


Ally Seevers

Adams, along with former Bellevue West wrestler and 4x state champ, Garrett Grice, were among many of the state champions to bask in the glory

Ally Seevers, Editor-In-Chief

The state wrestling finals will look a little different this year as the NSAA announced that starting this season, backflips following the conclusion of a match will be considered a penalty.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Millard South head boys wrestling coach Nate Olson said. “It was getting out of control, not just in wrestling and Class A, but in every sport. We try to teach to kids the expectation of going out there and winning. If you’re expected to win, you expected to win with integrity and show class and sportsmanship.”
Unsportsmanlike behavior has become a growing problem in sports across the state, something the NSAA looks to address.

“Unsportsmanlike behavior, not only in the state of Nebraska, but across the nation, and sportsmanship is becoming a major issue in all sporting activities, not just at high school level,” NSAA Assistant Director Ron Higdon said. “Our parent company, NFHS, which is National Federation of State High School Associations, they have made that a point of emphasis for all state associations to address sportsmanship and to look at ways that we can better educate, people, kids, coaches, and parents. And by doing that, hopefully, we’re going to get some better results with how people act on and off the playing field, the court, the mat, whatever.”

Senior Joel Adams celebrates his second state championship title in the 2022 State Wrestling Championships. (Ally Seevers)

After the state final match, many of the state champions will flip, dance, flex, all motions to express the rush of excitement they experience. For wrestlers like senior Joel Adams and junior Miles Anderson, who both look to repeat a state title they won last year, they will have to be careful when celebrating.

“Last year, I backflipped after my match,” Anderson said. “I was pretty excited, I had just won my first state title. I had no idea it was going to end up being considered taunting.”

“It’s hard,” Adams said. “Wrestlers like to backflip and celebrate. But at the same time, I understand why sportsmanship is a critical part of high school sports. Younger athletes look up to us, and we need to teach them young that sportsmanship is important and requires a lot of character and restraint. I am a big believer in that you should go out there and celebrate like you expected to win. I think that true champions can show sportsmanship and sacrifice doing a backflip,” Adams said.

In many other sports such as football or basketball, players will celebrate after a big sack or a buzzer beater, something that isn’t typically called unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I think that celebration is one thing,” Higdon said. “Celebration at the cost of taunting someone else is something different,” he said. “For example, you score a soccer goal and you run all the way over to the opponents. And show yourself like, well, here I am, that’s unsportsmanlike, because you’re taunting. There is a fine line there. You can celebrate without being disrespectful. You have to have some respect for the game, for the contest, for the opponent, for the officials. For the other fans, coaches, you have to have respect. And that’s a lot of what unsportsmanlike is about. It’s about respect,” Higdon said.

“I think wrestling is setting itself apart, and that’s what the NSAA and Ron Higdon is trying to do,” Olson said. “He’s trying to put wrestling in a positive light. I think it was directed at the state tournament where a lot of people will show up to watch, so he wants us to be seen in a positive light. I don’t think wrestling thinks that they’re getting cheated. It’s just another rule that we have to follow and we’ll do the best as coaches and athletes that we can to
make sure we abide by those rules,” Olson said.

The NSAA looks to continue to address the growing problem of unsportsmanlike behavior. They plan to better educate those involved to create the best environment possible.

“Sportsmanship has always been a topic of discussion,” Higdon said. “We are doing things to address it and showing people that we’re educated. We send out information on social media when we do those presentations and other things of that nature. So if we talk about it enough and we keep it in the forefront, hopefully, people will be better educated about it.”