The world of wrestling was stunned by the news yesterday that all categories of their beloved sport have been recommended for elimination from the 2020 Olympic games. The demise is not quite certain. Wrestling can be re-instated, but it has to now compete with baseball/softball, squash, karate, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu, and roller sports and the betting in wrestling’s favor is not good.
I am not a fan of wrestling and hardly ever watch the Olympics either but one has to feel some sympathy for wrestlers. After all, their sport has the strong claim of being one of the oldest in the world and is one that people indulge in all over the world because it requires no expensive equipment. It has been part of the modern Olympics since its inception in 1896 and was also reportedly in the ancient games.
If I had my way, the only events that would be included in the Olympics are those in which performances could be measured using mechanical devices (clocks, rulers, cameras, and the like) or at least by a points system that had some claim to objectivity. But any event in which the scoring depended on aesthetic judgments and artistic merit (like synchronized swimming, gymnastics, and diving) would be swiftly booted out.
Take a look at the competition that wrestling now faces. Baseball/softball and squash I can understand. Karate looks like it might be able to meet my criteria. But what is sport climbing? Wakeboarding? Roller sports? Are they really as widespread around the word as wrestling? Of course, wushu needs no introduction.
My own opinion is that the Olympics has long since stopped being about displaying who are the best athletes and become more about what will bring in the most revenue and the highest TV ratings. I think it is only a matter of time before events like Dancing with the Stars and American Idol and their innumerable spin-offs become Olympic events. After all, they inexplicably (to me at least) seem to get good ratings and that is the direction the Olympics seem to be headed.