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By: Adriana Skaljin

Cassandra Rufenach is a fourth-year biology student and wrestler for the McMaster wrestling team. Rufenach started wrestling in the 11th grade for half a season, and played a full season in her final year of high school.

Her decision to start wrestling was inspired by her love for taekwondo, which led to a desire to do something that shared the same level of physical contact. She loved her experience on the high school wrestling team, and continued her career at McMaster for the past four years.

“There was a big transition going from high school to university-level wrestling,” explained Rufenach. “At McMaster, we started to learn the sport [beyond] having fun, so I had to relearn everything I knew.”

“I started [late into high school] because I didn’t know that women were allowed to be on the wrestling team,” said Rufenach on her experience going into a male-dominated sport.  “I remember being told that it was a boy’s sport, but I joined anyways because I was already [participating in] fighting sports.”

Rufenach accounts for the physicality of wrestling as the reason why it is male-dominated. This is reflected in McMaster’s roster size, with the men’s team approximately double the size of the women’s.

“The sport [requires a high level of] physicality and is a tough and aggressive sport,” explained Rufenach. “Whenever I tell anyone that I am on the wrestling team, they are surprised because of my size and the fact that I don’t fit the [wrestling stereotype].”

“I think this is because the women’s team isn’t well known,” added Rufenach. “I think we need to make women’s wrestling more well known.”

This disparity is not just limited to wrestling, despite the fact that many women show interest in athletics. Rufenach notes that there is still more progress that needs to be made .

“We need to bring [more] awareness to women in sports and show that girls are just as capable as guys,” said Rufenach. “We need to make [female athletics] more apparent [in society] and provide equal highlights for both sexes.”

Despite her acknowledgement that wrestling is a male-dominated sport, she commends her team on being inclusive and equal between the male and female wrestlers.

“The male wrestlers on the [McMaster] team are good at being welcoming to us females and there is no exclusion,” said Rufenach. “There are physical differences between the women and the men, and the guys take that into account and wrestle us more tactically [in practice].”

“Everyone has their own individual areas of improvement,” said Rufenach on the team’s dynamic. “As a whole, our closeness helps [to unify us by the fact] that it is our sport.”

When asked about her individual areas of improvement, Rufenach explained how last year she was able to crack the standings unlike the year prior. She owes her new found success to her personal motivation tactics.

“I tell myself to stay calm [before a match] and remain focused,” said Rufenach. “Each match is a learning experience. It should not matter if you win or lose. You need to focus on wrestling your best and at a level that you will be proud of.”

Rufenach provided advice to any woman considering a start in wrestling.

“It’s going to be hard work; you need to be aware that hard work pays off,” she said. “Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it is considered a male-dominated sport. It doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter.”

It is evident that with passion, perseverance and acceptance, female wrestlers such as Cassandra Rufenach have the ability to participate in the sports they love. It is important to move past the male-normativity that is placed against sports, such as wrestling, and strive to recognize female athletics.


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Statistically, I’m a great fighter.

In my 10-plus years of playing hockey, I’ve never lost a fight. When it came to going buckets and gloves, I won both times.

But despite my obvious physical dominance on the rink, I have to say I’d rather hockey cut the fighting.

Those interested or involved in the sport have no doubt been a part of this debate at some point or another, and even those who aren’t order cialis canada interested have probably read an article or two about concussions sustained by minor hockey players.

Though brain-damaging injuries are obviously serious, that aspect of the argument, for me, isn’t the strongest. What is more convincing are the considerations of how scrapping affects the game itself.

There have been many recent changes to gameplay, regulations, even things like dimension standards. The changes were primarily implemented to improve the speed and flow of the game, as well as hopefully the skillsets of players.

Changes like those made to dimension standards are easier to see the effects of than more subjective changes (for instance the severity of penalties). The newly-increased distance between the blue lines and the goal lines, making for a larger offensive/defensive zone, makes a difference in how often the puck leaves the zone. This way, there is less need for the offensive players to clear the zone, and fewer stoppages of play related with re-entry offsides.

Hockey is obviously taking pains to become the smooth, fast sport it should be, for as much of the game as possible. Given this aspiration, it seems silly to keep mucking around with scraps.

Instead of bench brawls, I’d rather see brawlers benched.

Fighting is an unnecessary disruption to gameplay that serves no purpose but to entertain spectators who mistook the hockey rink for a boxing ring. It distracts from and interrupts the parts of the game that matter. Shooting, passing, skating, making plays to score more goals because that’s how you win a game; not by throwing a few punches or pulling another person’s jersey over their head.

Additionally, fighting in hockey creates an unwarranted culture of violence within the sport and its spectators. There is no other game wherein players regularly fight outside the parameters of the sport. Football, notoriously rough, has huge amounts of physicality. Yet, it is not unusual to see a player helping an opponent up after a particularly nasty tackle. And the fans don’t seem to mind, given that the National Football League is the most profitable sports organization in North America.

Speaking as a puck-head, I know that the National Hockey League wouldn’t lose me as a fan, and I wager most of my ice-fiend friends wouldn’t stop watching either. There is significantly less fighting in hockey than there used to be, and the referees are making marked attempts to stop brawls before they break out. It’s just a matter of improving this trend until we cut fighting out entirely.




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