Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Grappling with Olympic silliness

To appreciate the foolishness of the decision to remove wrestling from the Summer Olympics beginning in 2020, consider this: race walking is still considered a sport more worthy to be included in the quadrennial international competition, a ruling only Monty Python's Minister of Silly Walks would endorse. The International Olympic Committee executive board did not offer an explanation for dropping a sport that began as part of the first ancient games in 708 B.C. and the first modern Olympiad in 1896. A competition that has a two millennia of association with the Olympic ideal deserves more respect than being given the bum's rush off the medal stand.

The IOC dropped wrestling as it pared the number of sports to 25 for the Summer Games. But it would seem the demise of wrestling, which has governing bodies in 180 countries and 100,000 participants in the United States, simply was not telegenic enough or blessed with enough recognizable stars for today's soap opera backstory-driven Olympics. Read: not enough visual excitement, or competitors named Hulk.

Adding insult to injury, wrestling was smacked down by the IOC over field hockey, tae kwon do and the pentathlon. Wrestling still has time to lobby the IOC to reconsider its decision. Milo of Croton is regarded as the greatest Olympic wrestler of the ancient era, winning five times between 532 and 516 B.C. But now that legacy must grapple with competing against canoeing and rock climbing to remain part of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic creed, in part, reads: "The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well." For the sport of wrestling, though, fighting the good fight for more than 2,000 years wasn't enough.

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