You know they say that when scoring a wrestling match, take-downs are worth more than pushing an opponent out of bonds. So my question to the International Olympic Committee is; why are you guys trying to PUSH wrestling out of the Olympic Games?
In February, wrestling, one of the earliest and most elemental Olympic sports, was dropped from the Summer Games in a stunning and widely criticized decision by the International Olympic Committee, or IOC.
Next to track and field, wrestling is considered one of the oldest competitive sports, one that made its appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C.
So a couple months after making this decision, the IOC members met in Russia to vote on which sport will be apart of the finalists group in the 2020 Games. The three sports that made the finals for the inclusion in the Games in 2020 were: wrestling, baseball-softball and squash.
Now the 100-member IOC will vote in September on which of the three sports to include in 2020.
So before I go on a rant about why I believe wrestling should be added as the 26th sport in the 2020 Olympic Games, I want you to understand that I never played the sport of wrestling ever in my life. Since I was a kid, the only sports I joined a team in were football, basketball, and baseball (which also happens to one of the finalists to make the cut).
Now that you know there is no bias going on, here are three main reasons why I believe wrestling needs to be apart of not only the Games in 2020, but in all Olympic contests in the future:
1. Rich History
Wrestling represents one of the oldest forms of combat. Some people say the origins of wrestling go back 15,000 years through cave drawings in France. Babylonian and Egyptian reliefs show wrestlers using most of the holds known in the present-day sport.
In ancient Greece, they say that wrestling occupied a prominent place in legend and literature; wrestling competition, brutal in many aspects, served as the focal sport of the ancient Olympic Games. The ancient Romans borrowed a lot from Greek wrestling, but took away much of its brutality.
Wrestling has been apart of the modern Olympics since 1896. It is practiced in countries rich and poor, in dictatorships and democracies. It’s massive in Judeo-Christian and Muslim nations alike. In London in 2012, 71 nations competed in wrestling and 29 won medals. Only Running may be more diverse and accessible.
In February, an article written on the New York Times website quoted a former Olympic bronze medal winner saying, “The Olympic movement has gone astray. It’s moving in the direction, not of history but of ratings. Is it about mainstream and money, or is it about amateur sports competing at the highest level on the world stage?”
2. No Politics in Sports
Wrestling seemed in many ways to be the perfect Olympic sport. It is as basic as running; it has broad global appeal, with governing bodies in 180 countries and a power base that extends from the United States to Russia to Japan to India to Iran; and it is contested in a small area that is easily depicted on TV.
But in that same article (mentioned earlier) written on the New York Times website, it said:
Politics, too, play an inevitable role in the workings of the I.O.C. Among the sports surviving Tuesday’s vote was modern pentathlon, also threatened, and less popular internationally than wrestling. But modern pentathlon, a five-event sport that includes shooting, horseback riding and running, was invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games. And it is supported by Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of a former I.O.C. president and a member of its executive board.
As a fan of all sports, it’s sad to see that we have reached the day where we let our personal priorities intervene with what’s right for everyone else. Especially when it comes to sports.
3. Most Importantly, a Wrestlers Point of View
If I was a member on the IOC, the first thing I will do is “squash” all the Squash talks with it being the last sport in the group. Nobody got time to watch a racquet sport played by two (singles) or four players (doubles) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball.
That cuts the list down to wresting and baseball-softball.
The reason why I believe wrestling should be in the 2020 Games is because the Olympics are considered wrestling’s ultimate competition, which is not the case in baseball-softball.
Baseball now has the World Baseball Classic, which launched in 2006, and only in its third edition, exceeded worldwide broadcast and ticket sales benchmarks. While softball has the World Cup of Softball, World Games, and World Master Games.
So it’s safe to say that both baseball and softball have their fair share of being in the world’s spotlight.
Taking away the ultimate goal for a wrestler, which is to compete in an Olympic Game, is like going on numerous dates in your lifetime, only not to find your future spouse to be.
Like, it’s fun and all to meet new people, but eventually your ultimate goal is to find that person you can say I love you to and settle down with and maybe have kids.
Wrestlers enjoy competing in matches during middle school and high school, and if they have the chance to wrestle in college they would probably take advantage of the opportunity. But once they reached that point in their lives, their ultimate goal is to compete in an Olympic Game and maybe win some kind of medal.
Taken that opportunity away from those athletes would mean that they put their body on the line for almost 12 years, just to say “I put my body on the line wrestling for almost 12 years.” That maybe cool for their resume, but it is not cool for their future health.
If the IOC decides to take wrestling away from the Olympics, I believe we will start to see a steady decline with individuals participating in the sport, which could eventually lead to the demise of the sport.
But with all that said, there is some optimism going around for the wrestlers across the globe.
In September, the 100-member IOC will also select Madrid, Tokyo or Istanbul to be the host city of the 2020 Games. Site selection votes are known to be unpredictable, but the city of Istanbul, Turkey, has submitted a strong bid. Turkey’s national sport is wrestling and the Istanbul bid committee has lined up firmly behind the effort to keep wrestling in the Olympics.
So if wrestlers want to see the their sport continue to be apart of the Olympic games, they should probably push for Istanbul to be the host city in 2020.