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Olympic Sized Bummer

February 12, 2013
Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International ...

Olympic Games 1896, Athens. The International Olympic Committee. From Left to right, standing: Gebhardt (Germany), Guth-Jarkovsky (Bohemia), Kemeny (Hungary), Balck (Sweden); seated : Coubertin (France), Vikelas (Greece & chairman), Butovsky (Russia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

International Olympic Committee leaders announced that wrestling would be dropped from the 2020 Olympic Games.

Wrestling was one of the oldest sports in the games.

Wrestling, which combines freestyle and Greco-Roman events, goes back to the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.

This bums me out.  I wrestled.  My brothers wrestled.  My nephews wrestle.  It’s meaningful to me.  Wrestlers are all a big family of oddballs.  We have all been shaped by our participation in the sport (mostly in a good way).

I know nobody cares or this wouldn’t have happened.  It still saddens me a little.  The Olympic Games have lost a lot of their luster for me.  I still enjoy the Winter Olympics quite a bit, but the Summer version just doesn’t draw my attention like it used to.  During the previous Summer Games, I found myself enjoying badminton, ping-pong and equestrian events.  I think it was the novelty of seeing something I never see.  On the other hand, those badminton people are really good.  Amazingly so.

This isn’t the final cut, but it might as well be.

Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Change happens.  Business is business and all that.

The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

Nevertheless, I find the idea that the Olympic Games is driven by TV ratings unpalatable.  The feeling of pure competition is gone.  The Games have been politicized and monetized.  The athletes are doped up, savvy self-marketers.

I still watch, but I don’t look forward to it like I used to.

Except for luge, downhill skiing and curling.  Everyone loves curling, right?

I have golfed since I could walk.  I enjoy playing.  Golf will be in the 2016 Games in Rio.  Golf doesn’t need to be in the Olympics.  Golf happens all the time.  People watch professional golfers all the time.  The pinnacle of golfing excellence is not an Olympic gold medal.  The Olympics will pale compared with the four major golfing championships.  I assume it will be like some of the other professional sports where the top athletes will often skip the Olympics altogether in order to concentrate on what they really want to win.

This is the way things are in our modern age.

I don’t have to like it.

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