Keep wrestling in the Olympics
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 00:02
Between the sweat, the blood, making weight and the combat that is the sport, we know wrestlers are a tough bunch.
But the International Olympic Committee announced yesterday wrestling will no longer be a part of the Olympic Games starting in 2020. This is a travesty and a bad decision on the part of the committee — one that should be reconsidered.
Wrestling might not be the flashiest, the most exciting or the most modern of the events contested in the Olympics. While other sports come and go and new ones attract our attention, wrestling has been a part of the Olympics since ancient times. It’s been one of the earliest events contested by the ancient Greeks alongside races, the long jump, discus and javelin, and it has been a part of every modern Olympic Games.
The mental and physical discipline required of athletes in a sport that doesn’t get the same sort of glory and attention as football or baseball shows these athletes are deserving of their day of glory during the Olympic Games. They are putting in hard work in order to be good at their sport, not because they are going to get recognized at Impulse or Qdoba, or because they are trying to go pro and earn a huge contract, but because they are dedicated to a sport that isn’t easy, that demands mental toughness and doesn’t tolerate the weak of spirit.
We know the hard work wrestlers put into their sport, from children rolling around on mats to the nationally ranked Oregon State wrestling squad, which the Barometer sports writers named as the Best OSU sports team for the 2011-12 academic year. A wrestling match may only last six minutes, but anyone who has gone that long on the mats knows those six minutes can be among the longest of your life, leaving you drained and breathless.
Which is exactly why we don’t understand why the IOC would ignore the tradition of wrestling, its place in both the ancient and modern games, and the centrality of the Olympic Games within the sport. Taking wrestling out of the Olympics is like getting rid of the Super Bowl or the World Cup — it would be devastating for the sport.
The decision appears to be motivated by the IOC’s desire to attract younger viewers. Possible replacements for wrestling include rollerblading, wake boarding and rock climbing. Seriously, rollerblading?
It’s pace can be plodding for sure, but there is something primal and basic about wrestling that is attractive and should solidify its place at the Games. It is just one man against another, using his strength and wits to pin his opponent to the mat. There is nothing else, just two men and a clock and the desire to be the one with his arm raised at the end of the match. The Olympics should continue to honor that athleticism.
Editorials serve as means for Barometer editors to offer commentary and opinions on issues both global and local, grand in scale or diminutive. The views expressed here are a reflection of the editorial board’s majority.