The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 22, 2013

Our View: Wrestling deserves another look

The Joplin Globe

— Few sports have a greater claim to Olympic glory than wrestling, which is why it was such a shocking reversal when the International Olympic Committee voted to remove it from the 2020 games.

People as diverse as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (a collegiate and U.S. Navy wrestler who tried out but didn’t earn a spot for the 1956 Games) and author John Irving (a former wrestler, coach and inductee into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame) are rallying to the defense of their sport.

The arguments they make for it to be restored to the 2020 games are compelling.

Wrestling was included with the earliest of the ancient games, which go back to 776 B.C.; it also was included in the first modern games, which took place in 1896.

Rumsfeld’s argument is based on the universality of the sport: “More than 170 nations from all over the globe have competed. In the 1996 Olympics alone, 75 countries were represented on the mat. Athletes from a great number of nations have won medals — countries as diverse as Iran, South Korea, Sweden, Cuba and Hungary. Indeed, more countries have been represented on the winners’ podium for wrestling than for nearly any other sport.”

For Irving, the decision may rest in the fact that IOC board members have conflicts of interest with other sporting organizations that are better at lobbying, which he claims is not something amateur wrestling organizations have done well.

Now the ruling is apparently not final, which is the good news here.

Wrestling has earned its spot as an Olympic sport and doesn’t deserve the slight it just took from the IOC.