The Olympic wrestling issue

The decision by the International Olympic Committee to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics is not that hard to figure out.
Anyone who has watched the political drama around these games knows why one of the oldest and most respected sports in these games was tossed in the dumpster.
The IOC would rather have Tiger over a takedown, ratings over a reversal and popularity over pins.
When the United States developed the Dream Team for basketball, in a way, it marked a threat against every sport that lacks that type of charisma, including wrestling. The IOC saw the big boost the Dream Team gave them in television ratings, which of course leads to more advertising dollars, which leads to Olympic Games that don't finish in the red.
That star power doesn't exist in wrestling, or many other sports. In the eyes of IOC members, that made wrestling expendable.
It would be a mistake to think the IOC cares much about the competitive level or the tradition of the Games. For decades, this group turned a blind eye to the, ahem, peculiar body types of some of its competitors because the scandal of performance-enhancing activities would be devastating to the so-called sanctity of the games.
Allowing professional athletes to participate changed the landscape for the IOC, which is made up mostly of European aristocrats and select family members. Lobbying for change occurs at cocktail parties, not corporate headquarters, and with people who don't necessarily appreciate history or tradition unless it directly affects their native country.
Wrestling has at times been its own worst enemy, especially Greco-Roman where its a tough task to explain the rules to someone not familiar with the sport. It does not have a high television viewership so it doesn't receive the plum scheduling spots. Only the most fervent fan knows the strategy.
Wrestling has also been hurt by the - how can I put this diplomatically - inconsistencies of those who run the sport. Google Cary Kolat and shoelaces if you want an example.
Wrestling's supporters might be able to change the minds of the IOC members, but that won't be easy. Once removed, a sport would have a tough road for reinstatement.
And that would be cruelest takedown of all.


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