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IOC Recommends Dropping Wrestling From Olympics

What the heck is wrong with the IOC?

Many in America and around the globe are perplexed and flummoxed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board’s recommendation Tuesday to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport, starting with the 2020 Olympic Games.

There are 25 core sports, and the IOC will be adding Golf and Rugby. There are eight other shortlisted sports, wrestling being one of them. One of those eight will be selected in September as the final sport of the 2020 Olympic program.

This decision did not just upset wrestlers and their families; over the past two days I, a local wrestling coach, have had numerous friends and acquaintances outside of wrestling express their dismay through emails, calls, and conversations with me. I have not talked with many of these friends and acquaintances for years. The decision has fired up a whole swath of the public that is not directly involved in the sport.

Their views align with mine. Questions abound. Why eliminate something with such a rich history and legacy? Not only has wrestling been an Olympic sport since the first modern Olympics in 1896, it is as old as the hills—there are inscriptions depicting wrestling on ancient Egyptian tombs from 4,500 years ago! Why eliminate something that is woven into the fabric of humanity? Almost every boy instinctively wants to wrestle on the playground and on the living room floor in his home. As I tell prospective wrestlers, “in wrestling you get to do what you get in trouble for doing at home.” Why eliminate something with such potential for the future? As long as there are human beings, there will be one-on-one combat as sport. Why eliminate something with such global appeal? Every culture known to man has had some form of it, and 129 nations have sent athletes to the Games in wrestling since 1896 (6th on the list of sports in the modern era). I do not wish to assume an elitist, my-sport-is-better-than-your-sport mentality, but I wonder how many of the other core sports, not to mention the sports that might replace wrestling in the Olympics (golf, wakeboarding, rollerblading, to name a few), have that kind of breadth of participation.

Come to think of it, why be exclusive at all? Why the need to keep the number of sports at its current spot? Why not be inclusive? I get that the IOC just simply can’t add sports to infinity. There has to be a line somewhere. But why is the line at 28 (25 core, Golf, Rugby, + one shortlisted sport)?

Furthermore, why eliminate a sport that is, well, so simple at its core? All one needs is, well, yourself and another human being. Even the mat is not essential. There are competitions held on the beach. This gives participation opportunity to all peoples, regardless of geography, race, religion, gender, or economic station. Eliminating something that has such broad appeal is the exact opposite of the Olympic spirit.

Some note that the IOC is looking to appeal more to youthful audiences, so it is looking to include sports with more of an edge that are more interesting to watch. However, while some of the current rules in wrestling might dilute its appeal, with the popularity of sports like Jiu-jitsu and MMA (which are intimately connected to wrestling), it is apparent that such an appeal is there in wrestling’s core. It is one-on-one combat! How could that not be interesting? Change the rules to update it, perhaps. But eliminating it entirely is equivalent to curing a headache by cutting off the patient’s head.

I could keep going on with more questions, but perhaps the most powerful reason to scratch one’s head at the IOC’s decision is not contained in a question, but a picture. The picture that goes along with this blog piece—of U.S wrestler Jordan Burroughs and Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi after they competed against each other in the 2012 Games--says it all, and captures the tragedy of this in a way that talking points can’t.

The good news is that this is not over. The decision is not final. The next step is for the Executive Board to recommend a sport for the final spot in the 2020 Games. This meeting will happen in May in Russia. Wrestling will be one of those options, along with Baseball/Softball, Squash, Sport Climbing, Wakeboarding, Karate, Wushu, and Roller Sports. Next, while only the 15 member Executive Board (comprised mostly of representatives from Western European nations) voted Tuesday, in September the entire IOC will vote on the final program for the 2020 Olympics. That meeting will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

USA wrestling, the national governing body for wrestling in the U.S, is putting its full weight and energy behind the effort to persuade the IOC to come to its senses. USA wrestling will unite with the international wrestling community to get the job done. In the days ahead, we can expect quite a fight.

In the meantime, what can you do? Stay informed. This can start with something as simple as “liking” the “Keep Wrestling in the Olympics” Facebook page. As of Wednesday evening, there were over 72,000 likes on that page. That is quite astonishing in just over 24 hours. That bodes well for the future of this fight.

Rich Bordner is the coach of the Big Kat Wrestling Club, a wrestling club for youth grades 2-8. For more information, visit their website at bigkatwrestling.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JustUs February 14, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Probably not enough diversity in wrestling. We need more basketball and less wrestling. Let's promote diversity. :^)
Current Events February 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Wrestling is an origional Olympic event. How can they justiy golf being more of an Olympic event than wrestling. Ancient Greeks who founded the games must be turning in their graves. Here is a clipping from Olympics from Wikipedia: The Ancient Olympic Games were religious and athletic festivals held every four years at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Competition was among representatives of several city-states and kingdoms of Ancient Greece. These Games featured mainly athletic but also combat sports such as wrestling and the pankration, horse and chariot racing events.
Dan Avery February 19, 2013 at 06:56 PM
There was a time in this country when The Dumb and the Willfully Ignorant worked on assembly lines and wanted nothing more when they got off work other than "Miller Time," a woman with a retarded sense of morality, and a double-wide they could call "home." Then came downsizing, outsourcing, Bush the Second's devaluation of the dollar, and the economic collapse of 2008. Now The Dumb and the Willfully Ignorant are unemployable so they spend their days commenting on the Patch. Even when the article deals with topics they know nothing of; they live to spew their ignorance and hatred. They don't use their real names because they claim speaking your mind can be dangerous. Tell that to Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Nathan Hale, Thomas Paine... They are cowards and like all cowards they bully if you point out their complete lack of logic. They ruin online communication and any chance we may have had to learn from each other. They are why the Patch will fail and our society will continue to crumble around us.

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