Sunday, February 17, 2013

Olymipc Masters To Dump Wrestling?

The International Olympic Committee – the folks who've brought us all those wonderful bribery scandals and outrageous outcomes in judged events over the years – has apparently not been paid enough by the advocates of traditional, old, Classical-Olympics-era sports like wrestling. So, effective 2020, they're dumping it.

Wrestling isn't a high-tech sport requiring lots of infrastructure to practice; it's accessible to people who have nearly no means at all. Countries can be competitive despite small size. Wrestling is exactly the kind of sport we want to see – a sport that rewards athletes, not high-dollar sled design or high-tech equipment. Wrestling isn't made easier with slick suits, and you don't need expensive facilities to practice.

Wrestling is a real man's sport – a a real woman's. Wrestling is, in a nutshell, exactly what the Olympics is about.

Like Mike Downey says, Don't drop wrestling from the Olympics.

If low-overhead individual sports like wrestling are dumped because they lack star power or don't have enough sponsor funding, the result isn't hard to imagine. The Olympics will become indistinguishable from franchises like the NBA and Pro Golf and the numerous purveyors of equipment and dietary supplements for triathlon competitors. Sport drink vendors and apparel brands will dominate an event that should be about the struggle and triumph of individuals and teams. The Olympics will end up a collection of games athletes can't crack without access to elaborately manicured golf courses, or years-long basketball training programs complete with modern facilities and big organizations of teams to ensure regular inter-organization competition and maintain year-long funding for the marketing machines needed to sell tickets and apparel needed to keep their back-end operations running, or essential funding for engineering teams needed to keep aerodynamic and steering technology in the same league as competitors' in sports involving boats, bicycles, sleds, and so forth. Resources rather than skill alone will determine who can walk in the doors of the games. What a sad world is that.

Wrestling is so traditional that its ejection should be immediately viewed with suspicion.  Its requirements are so basic, and the nature of the competition so tool-free and fundamental, that it should be viewed as democratizing a Games lately dominated by equipment-driven performance analysis (ever notice who's in the diving and ski-jumping competitions?) and equipment (who's in the final rounds of the luge and bobsled events?).

Unlike basketball, soccer, baseball, and other sports the Olympics plans to retain, the international wrestling bodies actually use the Olympics to identify the world champion wrestler. Bicyclists and triathletes and marathoners have other world-profile events with which to select their leaders, but wrestlers actually use the Olympics to name their world champion.

Shouldn't wrestling get a break?

It's hard to believe the IOC isn't kicking wrestling simply because it's not able to sustain the kind of bribery that drives favorable rulings from the IOC and its subordinate bodies. If wrestling poured more cash into IOC coffers, we'd never see this kind of thing.

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