Wrestling grapples with change

Written by Observer editorial February 15, 2013 09:06 am

Wrestling knocked out of the Summer Olympic Games is yet one more blow in tarnishing the luster of a once gold-medal world gathering of athletes. 

It’s a disgrace. Common sense is being pinned.

Since the ancient Olympic Games in 708 BC, even before Christ’s time on earth, wrestling has been an integral part of the games. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the Olympics without wrestling. Throughout America, thousands of wrestlers compete from the peewee to the collegiate level, many with dreams of someday standing on the Olympic gold medal stand, like Rulon Gardner in 2000 and Dan Gable and Chris Taylor in 1972.

However, the International Olympic Committee, apparently hung up on TV ratings and star appeal, wants to cut wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games.

If the plan proceeds, wrestling will be dropped from competition after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The IOC no longer believes wrestling belongs in its 25 “core sports.”

Sure, golf and rugby, which are coming to the Olympics soon, are great sports. Pro golfers, however, do not have lifelong dreams of winning Olympic gold. Wrestlers do.

Wrestling, was also edged out by the modern pentathlon, a five-event competition of fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting.

Wrestling organizations are appealing the decision. However, the odds are long that freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling, which date back to the modern Olympics start in 1896, will get a seat at the Olympic table.  

It’s sad that the Olympics, once a bastion of amateur athletics, has tilted toward professional sports and huge endorsement contracts for gold medalists. 

The IOC should reverse its decision, take out golf, which has major championships already, and replace it with wrestling.