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Sumo wrestling incident raises concerns over Spirit Week safety

Jack Shapiro and Neal Biswas

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Concerns have been raised over student safety during Spirit Week, particularly during the sumo wrestling competition. In this photo, junior Andrew Frick takes down sophomore Nick Beeson. Photo by Jared Schwartz

A freshman was taken to the nurse’s office following participation in the sumo wrestling event at Palo Alto High School’s lunch rally today, raising concerns over whether the administration is taking proper measures to ensure students’ safety during Spirit Week.

Freshman Carl Wolfgramm fell backward and appeared to hit his head on the turf after being forced off the mat by his senior opponent, Spencer Drazovich.

“As the student [Wolfgramm] fell back, the helmet fell off and he hit his head on the turf,” Principal Phil Winston said. “He was just a little dazed. We sat him up and made sure he was okay and then we took him to the nurse.”

Wolfgramm was sent to the nurse’s office and is doing “fine” according to Winston. This was confirmed by Wolfgramm himself.

“When I saw he was on the ground I felt terrible,” Drazovich said. “I was relieved when he told me he was good.”

The incident raises concerns over whether the administration is doing enough to keep Spirit Week activities like sumo wrestling safe.

Many students did not believe this was a serious issue, and that it was just a part of the Spirit Week competition.

“It was a Spirit Week rally and he [Wolfgramm] was going up against a 300-pound senior,” junior James Hindery-Nelson said. “He seemed completely fine … It [sumo wrestling] is fun to watch, it gets everyone fired up. We should definitely keep doing it.”

Freshman Ivy Li also does not believe the incident warrants much concern.

“A lot of us just thought he had trouble getting up,” Li said. “We really didn’t think he was seriously hurt. I don’t really think it was a big issue.”

ASB Adviser Matt Hall outlined two things that can be done differently next year to ensure student safety in the sumo wrestling competition.

“One, which is an easy fix, is to make sure that the velcro on the helmet is fastened,” Hall said. “Two, we could also bring out some more of the wrestling mats and place them around the sumo area. I think that’s obviously an easy way to fix it.”

Hall also pointed out that the football field was not the original location for the sumo event to take place.

“Keep in mind that location [the football field] was not the original location,” Hall said. “The default location would have been on the grass, on the quad, which may or may not have been softer, but given the weather and the conditions of the quad we moved it [sumo] to the football field.”

Overall, Hall does not see the need to make any serious changes regarding student safety during Spirit Week.

“There’s been no exigent circumstances brought to us that we feel need a ruling from the district level,” Hall said. “Really it’s about the district deciding ultimately the safety level, and so far everybody … is complying with the district dress code.”

1 Comment

One Response to “Sumo wrestling incident raises concerns over Spirit Week safety”

  1. Matthew Christian Hall on October 24th, 2012 2:53 pm

    Jack/Neal: Strong article. The last quote comes off a little funky with me talking about dress code in the absence of context, and I think that’s because you neglected to put in a reference to your follow up question about student attire and safety, which is at 1:16 of our interview. Jack, you asked, “I’ve heard concerns from other people regarding dressing up on Generation Day. People rollerblading around campus…is ASB concerned with, with any other aspects of Spirit Week being safe for students?”

    So, a simple way to slip it into the article might have been something like, “When asked about other Spirit Week concerns, such as costume safety or appropriateness, Mr. Hall replied, “….blah blah blah….”

    My two cents. =)

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