NEW YORK, NY – Let’s face it, we’re in the doldrums of sport. The start of the 2013 MLB season is just teasing us at this point; the NFL is in the nether world between the Super Bowl and pre-free agency/draft; yes, the NHL is a little more intense due to the shortened season but that’s a league that was bleeding fans well before its labor dispute. Sure, this weekend the NBA held it’s annual clownfest, yes the All-Star game was close and yes KD dropped 30 but with nearly 300 combined points, what kind of basketball game was it?
In my desperation I’ve settled on this whole wrestling fiasco to satiate my need for something interesting in the sporting world. No I’m not going on some weird pre-pubescent WWE bender, I’m talking about Olympic wrestling and its apparent lack thereof. While I admittedly know zero about wrasslin’ nor have I ever watched it, I find it fascinating that the oldest and most elementally human sport will be eliminated from the games as of 2020. The Olympics, dating back to 708 B.C. included wrestling, but last week the executive board of the International Olympic Committee cast a secret vote to scrap the event from the program, while keeping the Modern Pentathlon– because obviously that just sounds more Greek. Personally I’ve never heard of the Pentathlon- a complicated combination of shooting, horseback riding, running, swimming and fencing- and I can’t name a single high school, college or university worldwide that fields a Modern Pentathlon team. Nor can I fathom a place where one could even find an athlete skilled at that entire jumble of random sports… maybe a European country club? But Europe doesn’t have money any more, so I have my doubts.
So does the entire world apparently. The global TV audience for wrestling averages 23 million while Modern Pentathlon pulls in just 12.5 million. This begs the question, “what the what?” Naturally several U.S. politicians are trying to resolve this terrible hatchet job because the United States clearly has no other problems worth solving at the moment.
“The decision to cut wrestling from the Olympic Games by the IOC is a wordwide injustice,” Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack (yes, the man’s name is Loebsack) said. Loebsack (god I love saying that name) joined Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (Hoooray bi-partisanship!) and fellow dem Rep. Tim Walz in introducing a House resolution formally opposing the decision, meaning the House of Representatives will waste time discussing scantily clad men grappling on the world stage…sounds about right.
Even formal college wrestler and war aficionado, Donald Rumsfeld weighed in saying that wrestling is unique from “the arts festival and Kumbaya session that some may prefer the modern Games to be.” Good to know that Donny has a firm grasp, no pun intended, on the spirit of the Olympic games and its oldest sport.
Wrestling certainly takes its shots in popular culture, Donald Rumsfeld certainly doesn’t deserve the last word here, and I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about, but the fireworks over Olympic wrestling has my attention. The sport will be able to mount an appeal to the IOC this summer and will compete with several other potential events for one remaining spot in the program. Among these other sports are Squash, Wakeboarding, “RollerSports” and Wushu… If wrestling can’t beat out these other “sports” then clearly the terrorists have won. Thankfully wrestling has Rummy on its side… wow, I’m nauseous.