Since the International Olympic Committee announced its plan to eliminate wrestling from the 2020 Games, there has been plenty of public outcry.
Some of the comments on the Only A Game Facebook page and at OnlyAGame.org have been creative, such as the one from Paul Sutcliffe. He lives in Pittsburgh, which, at least by some measures, is the state in which wrestling is most popular.
“If the IOC is going to eliminate wrestling, then my suggestion is to eliminate all sports except pre-pubescent girls’ gymnastics and the opening and closing ceremonies. Sheesch.”
Not everybody responding to the IOC’s decision felt compelled to take a shot a another sport when wrestling fell out of favor with the lords of the rings, but Larry Towne couldn’t resist. “Another example of tradition selling out to an ever-increasing wave of commercialism,” he wrote. “It’s okay to add new sports, but to declare synchronized ribbon-waving a sport over wrestling seems a sad commentary on the Olympics.”
I’m not sure rhythmic gymnastics, to which Mr. Towne was referring when he mentioned ribbon-waving, is as hot commercially as he apparently assumes, but point taken.
David Fisk, a Vermonter, wrote, “I think Zeus is so smoked about the IOC removing wrestling from the Games that he has started hurling rocks at us from space.”
Folks in Russia, where wrestling is perhaps as popular as it is it Pennsylvania, may consider that an especially timely observation.
Lots of other listeners to Only A Game expressed their dismay at the IOC’s decision. They characterized the elimination of wrestling as a mistake by a ratio of 18 to one. Some of those commenting advertised their credentials as long-time fans of the sport: “I wrestled in high school,” “I love watching it,” and so on. Others confessed that they don’t know a half nelson from a hammerlock but just feel that history and tradition ought to count for something when it comes to deciding which sports to banish from the Games.
If, as has been surmised, wrestling lost out last week in part because the sport, unlike modern pentathlon, lacked friends at the table when the executive board of the IOC met, perhaps the squawking I’ve cited will help convince the IOC to change their collective mind at the earliest opportunity, which will be in May. I’m told it would be very unusual for the board to reverse itself so quickly. But isn’t there something called “a reverse” in wrestling? And when it happens, doesn’t the guy who’s been on the bottom in an apparently hopeless position suddenly find himself on top, earning a point?