Boys at age 14 are so defined by sports. It's crazy, but true. It seems like all the boys at this age dream of being pro-football players. In fact, the school counselor said that it is something like 60% of boys this age that list their planned occupation as pro-sports. It's also the main topic of conversation among boys this age. Unfortunately they can't see how UNimportant being the school-jock is once you hit college.
Because of this boy-sports-obsession, N is determined to find himself a sport. Right now, he is asking to do wrestling.
I just got off the phone with the High School Wrestling Coach. We had an elaborate conversation about the changes that have been made in wrestling "weigh-ins" over the past six years. He told me that N would have to do a hydration test, followed by a body-fat composition test. Using this data, the state wrestling committee devises a personalized weight chart that indicates "allowed" weight classes. In other words, if they felt N was at his ideal weight, then he wouldn't be allowed to wrestle at a weight-class lower than that ideal - even if he lost weight. If they determined that he was heavier than his ideal weight, then they would allow him to wrestle at lower weight classes but would require that he take a certain amount of time to get there (in other words slow, monitored weight loss instead of starving) [In my opinion, they should be careful about allowing any weight loss at all. Is their standard appropriate for everyone? Shouldn't a doctor be making the weight guidelines in consultation with the parents?]. They also don't require wrestlers to maintain weight at tournaments. In fact they raise the entire weight class by one pound each day of the tournament.
It seems like wrestling is making progress towards discouraging eating disorders - but still has a long way to go.
After this conversation, I'm less concerned with the pressure to make certain weight-classes. In fact, the coach indicated that we could request that N only wrestle in his current weight-class regardless of the personalized recommendations, which the boys usually don't see anyway. My main concern now is the constant weigh-ins. I understand that they do this to ensure fair play (wrestle someone at the same size). However, how would N respond to being weighed three times a week? Our scale is still hidden. N hasn't known his weight for three years now.
On the other hand, N is so excited about trying something new. He wants to be good at something. He's taken more initiative towards doing this then any other sport in the past. I'm eager for him to work hard and have positive experiences.
But is it worth any risk? Is it possible that we, along with the coach, could monitor him closely enough to prevent relapse?