….the IOC is making a mistake by dropping Wrestling

….the IOC is making a mistake by dropping Wrestling

It is hard to imagine that a future Summer Olympic Games will likely not have wrestling on its program. Few sports are as closely associated with the roots of the event and have the deep connection to ancient Greece and the inspiration for the modern Olympics. Nevertheless a committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) responsible for the program voted to remove wrestling starting in 2020. In an effort to keep the size of the Olympics manageable, the IOC needs to eliminate a sport as it plans on adding golf, rugby, and one other sport to be determined. Wrestling is able to compete for that last open spot, but the prospects are bleak. Here are 5 Ways the IOC is making a mistake by dropping wrestling:

1.  Cutting ties with the ancient Olympics – Never mind that wrestling was an original sport in the modern Olympics in 1896 and has been contested at each Olympics with exception of 1900, wrestling’s participation in the ancient Olympics traces back to 708 BC.  It is hard to argue that the Olympics does not trade on its history and traditions, but to say goodbye to wrestling is to cut ties with the core of Olympic origins.

2.  Further dismisses the relevance of amateurism – Also at the core of the modern Olympics is the ideal of amateurism; sport for the sake of competition, not prize money.  Although professionals participate throughout the Olympic program, the only rewards for success given by the IOC are medals.  There is no direct prize money.  National Olympic Committees (NOC) often reward their best athletes and help fund their training and participation and athletes often need sponsorship just to compete, but the Olympics themselves are supposed to be the celebration of competing for the prize of winning alone.  However, it appears that the IOC has become more interested in sports that could be lucrative for the organization, sports that already have strong professional ranks like golf and rugby.  It is expected that the best professionals in these sports will compete at the Olympics.  So while the Olympics have added professional basketball players, ice hockey players, golfers, and rugby players, it is casting away the amateur sport of wrestling.

3.  Eliminating a global sport – Wrestling is global.  Over 100 countries sent wrestlers to 2012 London Games.  It is played at all age levels throughout the world.  It is an easily accessible sport, not requiring equipment to play.  It is requires little infrastructure and investment.  Instead, the IOC is adding the very expensive and elitist sport of golf.

4.  Opportunity lost to continue the promotion of women in the sport –  The inclusion of women’s wrestling in the 2004 Athens Games was a monumental step in the growth of the sport.  The Olympics provide the best opportunity to showcase the sport to both genders, encouraging a participation boom.  With wrestling out of the Olympics, the IOC is destroying the best promotional tool available.  There are other sports that have significant gender imbalances, but wrestling has made great efforts to address it issue, using the Olympic platform to full effect.

5.  Shines the spotlight yet again on messy IOC politics – The IOC has politically tumultuous history riddled with interference and corruption.  Since last decade’s Salt Lake City scandal, the IOC’s top priority has been to repair its image as the leader of the Olympic movement.  Presidential term limits and rules promoting transparency have helped the IOC clean up its image, but the organization still has democratic hurdles to overcome.  There are too many conflicts of interest among decision-making bodies, best exemplified by the wrestling decision.  Federation leaders and NOCs are too self-interested to decide what sports should stay or go.  IOC bookkeepers are most interested in the persuasion of numbers.  How many decision-makers are looking at the bigger picture, attempting to be as objective as possible?


Author Description

JB Hacking

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