The International Olympic Committee is going to drop wrestling as a sport after the 2016 Games. Because the Olympics continue to add sports and put on demonstration sports as competitions, the folks who run the games do need to keep the total number of competitions under control. Recall that softball for women was dropped in 2008. Freestyle wrestling and Greco-Roman wrestling are hardly sports with a huge following in the US, but the action of the IOC to drop the sport has generated plenty of commentary. Most of it can be categorized as incredulity or outrage.
Wrestling has been part of the Olympics since they were resurrected in 1896. Moreover, since the ancient Olympics tended to focus on competitions that had something to do with ancient warfare, wrestling was one of the sports in those ancient games. If reports are accurate, two other sports that might have been on the elimination list along with wrestling were field hockey and taekwondo. I will go out on a limb here and say that neither of those sports was in evidence in Olympia back in 776 BC.
Consider some of the other sports on the Olympic menu that will continue after wrestling is gone:
The first five on that list have nothing to do with skills associated with ancient warfare nor do they have a long and rich tradition in the sporting world outside Olympic competition. The Modern Pentathlon exists only because the “Father of the Modern Olympics”- Baron Pierre de Coubertin – created the event out of nothing just in time for the 1912 Games. Quick Quiz – and no Googling allowed:
Name the 5 events that make up the Modern Pentathlon.
Full disclosure here; I could only name three without looking it up. The five events are:
Laser-pistol shooting: (Lasers have such a rich historical tradition…)
Show-jumping: (Roy Rogers could do this and shoot his gun at the same time.)
Fencing: (If you can shoot a pistol accurately, why do you need an epee?)
3-kilometer run: (If you have a horse handy, why are you running?)
200-meter freestyle swim: (Good way to get rid of the smell of that horse.)
So, you ask, “What are the sports that might replace wrestling?” Here is a partial list:
Roller Sports (I wonder if Roller Derby is a Roller Sport.)
Just so there is no misunderstanding, I did not watch more than 2 minutes of Olympic wrestling in the 2012 Games and the odds are that I would not watch more than 2 minutes of it in any future games. However, I watched more wrestling than I did field hockey or taekwandoo or any of the “silly sports” named here or any of the potential new sports listed here.
The statement in the reporting about this IOC decision that put the icing on the cake for me was that the decision was reached after a series of secret ballots. Normally, the idea of secret ballots is a good idea; but when an organization with a history of corruption and bribery makes a decision via a series of secret ballots, I immediately suspect that the results might have been significantly different had the entirety of the process been even marginally transparent. Put the IOC together with secret ballots and you have a classic Goat Rodeo if in fact you want anything constructive to come out of it.
Here is a small historical tidbit about the modern Olympics. In the 1912 Games, they awarded medals in five categories of Art. People won Olympic Gold Medals in Architecture, Literature, Music, Painting and Sculpture. Would you be shocked to learn that Baron Pierre de Coubertin himself won the Gold Medal for Literature with a poem titled Ode to Sport?
Would you be shocked to learn that Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC President, is simultaneously the vice-president of the international governing body for Modern Pentathlon and a board member of the IOC? Now that you know that fact, are you still surprised that Modern Pentathlon survived the cut?
Earlier this week, I wrote about the potential for weather problems in next year’s Super Bowl venue. The prompted a former colleague to send me a brief e-mail related to that issue:
“… contingency plan would be to play the game in the parking lot of a Motel 6 somewhere along the Jersey Turnpike. At least they will leave the lights on for you.”
When the 2010 soccer World Cup Games were telecast in the US on ESPN, I wrote here about how much I enjoyed the British commentators ESPN retained to call those games. What I enjoyed were the clever turns of phrase by the announcers along with the simple understatements of the commentaries allowing the picture on the screen to present the game to me. Such is not likely to be the case for all soccer telecasts in the US in the future…
FOX Sports has won the TV rights for the World Cup games starting in 2018 and FOX has decided to put Gus Johnson in the booth as their “soccer guy”. Let me be clear, there is no possible way to put the name “Gus Johnson” in the same paragraph with “simple understatements”. Johnson’s style is bombastic, over-the-top, hyperventilating commentary delivered in a loud voice. I fear that he might resort to one of his favorite catch-phrases should there be a breakaway in one of the World Cup Games he does and it just will not fit with soccer. Seriously, won’t it be discordant to hear him yell, “Here comes the pain!”
Finally, here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“In running news, Greg Cote won last week’s Miami men’s marathon by an astounding margin of more than two hours while competing in a 2005 Corvette.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………