Wrestling Not So Popular – The IOC Says So – Agree or Disagree [POLL]
My knowledge of wrestling predates the WWF.
Wrestlers like Johnny Valentine (father of Greg the Hammer, who I had the pleasure of chauffeuring to a gig in Edison one Friday night); his arch nemesis Buddy Rogers, Gorilla Monsoon, Bo Bo Brasil and so many others were a part of a Saturday night ritual watching them on Channel 5.
And as anybody knows, wrestling was one of the marquee events highlighted in the Olympic games when they were reinstituted in 1896…actually going as far back as 776 B.C.
Golf and rugby are set to join the Olympic schedule for the 2016 Summer Games; baseball, softball, squash, karate and roller sports were eliminated in 2005 to make room for the new sports.
Rulon Gardner’s epic upset of Russian wrestling great Alexander Karelin in 2000 remains one of the most compelling moments of the modern Olympics.
Starting in 2020, youngsters looking to Gardner and Karelin for inspiration won’t have a chance to excel on the sport’s biggest stage.
Gardner and nearly everyone else associated with the sport in the U.S. were jolted Tuesday when International Olympic Committee leaders dropped wrestling from the Summer Games.
The move is set to take effect for the 2020 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and eliminates a sport that’s been a staple of both the ancient and modern Games.
“It’s the IOC trying to change the Olympics to make it more mainstream and more viewer-friendly instead of sticking to what they founded the Olympics on, and that was basically amateur sports,” Gardner told The Associated Press by phone from Logan, Utah. “To get the death penalty out of nowhere.”
2004 Olympic gold medalist and Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said “I just think of the kids in our program that dream of being Olympic champions. And to think that now that’s no longer an opportunity just so the IOC stay fresh and continue to rotate sports and whatever their plan is — it’s tough to think about.”
Wrestling is also one of the most popular youth sports in the U.S. The National Federation of State High School Associations reports that the sport was sixth among prep boys with nearly 275,000 competing in 2010-11.
Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.
The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Reaction to the move was swift on social media. A Facebook page titled “Save Olympic Wrestling” was started Tuesday morning and had nearly 5,000 members by noon. A number of fellow Olympians also displayed their displeasure over the decision on Twitter by using the hashtag (hash)SaveOlympicWrestling.
Perhaps wrestling isn’t as viewer friendly and “mainstream” as some other sports that have gotten major play on television, this despite being one of the most popular sports taken up in high schools.
However, we all know how important the decision of the TV networks is in deciding which events get included and which don’t. TV says “jump” and the IOC says “how high?”
It’s the words of Method Man coming back to remind us that “Cash Rules Every Thing Around Me….CREAM, get the money, dolla dolla bill, y’all!”
To not include as traditional a sport as wrestling to the Olympic roster would be like removing the Olympic torch ceremony from the event.
What say you…we’d like to know!