I was shocked when I read that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it will drop wrestling from the summer Olympics after the 2016. There are two types of Olympic wrestling — Freestyle and Greco-Roman. As you can tell from that second type, wrestling has been around since the ancient Greeks. It was probably the most important sport in the original Olympics, and was one of the original nine sports in the first modern Olympics in 1896. So why drop wrestling from the Olympics? Because apparently wrestling doesn’t bring in the money like other sports.
Now, it’s still possible that wrestling will be re-added in May, when the IOC decides on another sport to add to the 2020 Olympics. But by demoting it in the first place, it doesn’t look good for wrestling.
Here are the sports currently in the Summer Olympics:
- Swimming (comprised of swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo)
- Biking (comprised of BMX, mountain biking, road cycling, and track cycling)
- Gymnastics (comprised of artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, and trampoline)
- Volleyball (indoor and beach)
- Equestrian (dressage, eventing, jumping)
- Athletics (running, jumping, throwing)
- Field hockey
- Modern pentathlon
- Table tennis
- Wrestling (until 2016)
- Golf (starting in 2016)
- Rugby (starting in 2016)
Why sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, and sailing need to be included in the Olympics escapes me. All of these sports have more important events outside of the Olympics — soccer has the world cup, basketball has the world championships, and tennis, golf, and sailing have several marquee events every year. Wrestling’s main event is the Olympics.
Of course soccer, basketball, and tennis draw the eyeballs, and more eyeballs means more advertising revenue. Like the NCAA, the Olympics isn’t really about amateur sport, ‘celebrating humanity’, or any other such nonsense. The Olympics is a business, plain and simple. The people running it will try to make it as profitable as possible.
For the record, here are some of the sports that wrestling will be competing with to make it into the 2020 Olympics:
- Baseball (no longer an Olympic sport)
- Softball (no longer an Olympic sport)
I like wrestling’s odds against that field, although baseball also has a pretty good chance. But let’s hope that there’s a public outcry about this and that the IOC reverses their decision.