It is a sad time for the international sporting world. The International Olympic Committee has voted to remove wrestling from its list of 25 core sports and allow the modern pentathlon to remain as one of these core events, leaving the sport fighting for its future.
Olympic wrestling is the pinnacle of the sport. There is no event comparable to it, unlike most other sports. Some may argue that winning a national championship in college wrestling is the highest of highs for the sport. I disagree; it’s no different from winning a BCS title. You’re still going to want more driving athletes to prepare for the next level and to achieve their dreams.
Olympic wrestling brings two different styles of the sport together with Greco-Roman and Freestyle. These styles differ from what is seen in high school and college competitions. Greco, as it’s known, doesn’t allow opponents to utilize moves that require touching the opponents’ legs, creating an exciting amount of throws being used in a match. Freestyle is most similar to folk style (what we see in college and high school) in that it allows the use of legs to take an opponent down or pin them.
Wrestling has been in the Olympics since 1896, since the installation of an official Olympic committee in 1894. However, the sport can be traced back to the original ancient games in Greece some 3,000 years ago. Back then it was included in the original pentathlon, when it concluded the games and often decided the winner.
Some argue that the sport is dying, and less popular now than it has ever been; this is wrong. The sport is still growing. More athletes are finding themselves on the mat in the winter and over the summer. Unfortunately, schools are in tough spots economically and programs are being cut, especially wrestling programs. When Title IX was established, many wrestling programs disappeared across our country. Athletic departments needed to equal the number of men and women’s teams and wrestling often was unable to fit the criteria.
The IOC ruling does not mean the extinction of Olympic wrestling. The sport can apply to be considered for the 2020 Olympic games as well as those after it. There will be a vote to approve or deny the request to drop wrestling from the list of core sports for future summer games. This is simply a wake-up call for the sport, as nothing was finalized after the announcement Tuesday.
It’s the third period and the wrestling community is coming together and ready to strike back. Pages on Facebook have been created and even a petition on Whitehouse.gov, asking the Obama administration to put pressure on the IOC to reinstate wrestling to its list of core sports. It already has more than 20 thousand signatures. The petition needs at least 100 thousand to receive a response from the White House.
Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées (FILA), also known as the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, is preparing a five-point move to get wrestling back to the finals. They haven’t given up and don’t plan to.
Wrestling is still on the list of sports for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and athletes are still preparing for that. We are not talking about the fake and deplorable wrestling of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE). This is not acting; this is a battle for the gold between two legitimate athletes. Blood is shed, bones are broken and dreams are crushed. Two hundred and fifty pounds of pure human is tossed around like it’s no big deal, and the man gets right back up and throws the other guy. This sport is built on dedication, hard work and determination, and the IOC cannot take that away.