Well this is monumentally depressing news.
Wrestling, one of the earliest and most elemental Olympic sports, was dropped from the Summer Games on Tuesday in a stunning and widely criticized decision by the International Olympic Committee.
Apart from track and field, wrestling is considered by many the oldest competitive sport, one that made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C. and thrives on its rudimentary attractiveness — one athlete trying to subdue another, not with equipment but with the fundamental use of the arms, upper body and legs.
Yet it was precisely the traditional nature of wrestling that appeared to doom it. A shift in priority has occurred in an era of outsize television contracts as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance, modernity and youthfulness in the Winter and the Summer Games.
This from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports, who I completely agree with:
The Olympics are special when they offer the ultimate global competition for a group of athletes, where everyone builds to this singular moment. It doesn't matter if it's a millionaire such as Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, or a teenage gymnast with a dream, or a poor courageous middle distance runner out of Central Africa, the Olympics are an accomplishment that brings joy and tears and importance and everything.
Rory McIlroy will win a gold in Rio and then head off to his next event. Yes, it will be cool. Yes, he'll say the right thing. Yes, he'll enjoy it – the way the professional tennis players enjoy it – but it isn't bigger than the British Open or whatever major is next.
Two of my most memorable Olympic moments are wrestling related. The first was the monumental upset of Alexander Karelin of Russia (who had been undefeated the prior 13 years) to little known American Rulan Gardner in Sydney 2000. The other was just this pass summer when I watched Jordan Burroughs defeat Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi of Iran.
Watch both of the matches below and try to tell me how this sport, these athletes, and these moments don't deserve a place in the modern Olympics. I have no problem adding golf to the Olympics. I have a major problem adding golf to the Olympics when it comes at the cost of cutting the Olympics' most historical event. Yes, it is idiotic to expect the Olympics never to change. Venues will change. Audiences will change. Advertising and revenue models will change.
Cutting wrestling to include golf as an Olympic event? That's change that should have never happened.