LHW: So much has changed since I competed in high school during the 1970s. When I wrestled if you had 20 matches during the season, it was a lot. There are more opportunities to compete competitively all year today than in the 70s. Are the top wrestlers better today than in yesteryear? What’s your reasoning?
GREEN: I don’t know. I know this….there are no surprises anymore. Everyone is on YouTube, everyone is scout-able. The best kids in the country see each other at more events then they did then. Back then, you could theorize that you were the best…now kids lay it on the line maybe a dozen times a year. Would Troy Nickerson or Jesse Jantzen won as many titles as they did 30 years ago? I say yes. Could the stars of that era compete today? Sure, I don’t doubt it. It’s a fun debate, but anyone who says they know for sure is dangerously myopic.
LHW: We’ve heard that you’ve offered Marty R. a coaching position at Shamrock, as well as a recruiting post at Binghamton. Is Marty considering the offer? Is it true that he will be living in an apartment in your home? Seriously, Marty has many criticisms about wrestling today. How would you constructively respond to those criticisms?
GREEN: Marty is great for wrestling. We need more fans like him. I love the fact that he has his opinions and expresses them, no matter how silly, trite and wrong they are. Seriously, how can we turn away a fan like him? When you travel to events as much as he has, and put as much into supporting the sport, you are entitled to be wrong as often as you want. Most people are fans of our sport as long as their kids are involved and then that’s it. We’ve lost 2/3 of our college programs in the last 30 years, and we think we don’t need fans?
Now, are some of the things he says idiotic? Of course! But if you ever had a conversation with the guy off the board you’d see he’s just a provocateur, looking to stir the pot. Bottom line is he loves the sport, and the sport needs people who love it. And from what I’ve heard…people aren’t shy about letting him know what they think of him to his face…so check and balance right there.
He can stay at my house whenever he wants…I always have lawn work I need done.
LHW: The Long Island fan base can sometimes be quite enthusiastic about their success; they sometimes voice complaints on the forums about how the upstate teams are trying to stack the deck against them. It must trouble many of the upstate wrestlers and coaches. Would you like to say anything to the LI fans, wrestlers, and coaches about their position on this?
GREEN: You should be proud of your success. Regional rivalries drive a lot of successful states. But I’ve always been more about judging people on an individual basis more than I have groups of people. A day doesn’t go by in our Bearcat room when we don’t talk a little trash about Sec 2 (Pop), 8 (Dennis) 5 (Patterson’s) and 4. If people put as much energy into fighting the external factors that threaten our sport as they did in complaining about which ref screwed their kid, or how this coach is a egomaniac, or how upstate hates LI and vice versa, we’d progress a lot more as a unit. Try this: every time you want to complain, donate a $1 to your local college program, or to an organization that works to save wrestling. Seems a lot more productive, no?
LHW: What do you think of the change to the regional format for high school wrestling in New York? Do you feel that the revised format favors any one or group of regions? Might it have an adverse effect on any single or group of regions?
GREEN: I honestly haven’t examined it that closely. Anything that gets good kids to States is good, I guess. I thought the wildcard was good. To me though, until you go back to one state champion, it’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a house with a cracked foundation. One State Champ! It’s what set us apart, made us unique. I’m pretty ambivalent about anything else.
LHW: What does the future hold for New York wrestling? Where would you like to see the sport go in the Empire State?
GREEN: I think we have great college programs. We are very lucky to have so much access to college wrestling at all levels. I’d like to see more of NY’s best on the Fargo Dome floor every summer. The reports of the demise of wrestling in our state have been greatly exaggerated. We are doing fine at all levels.