By Nick Barringer MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS (EIEIO) The Tactical Strength...
Wrestling and the Olympics
By Mr. Twisted
Badminton. Baseball. Basque pelota. Cricket. Croquet. Equestrian. Golf. Gymnastics. Polo. Sailing. Softball. Table tennis.
What do all of these events have in common? They are all part of the Olympic Games and recognized as official Olympic sports. They also now have something else in common: they are going to remain Olympic sports, whereas wrestling…
An article this morning in the New York Times explains how the IOC (International Olympic Committee) leaders voted to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games, citing a “process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics.” The spokesman issuing the statement, Mark Adams, did not make any mention of how much sand, exactly, was in the vaginas of the committee.
Seriously, what kind of candy-assed, spineless, anti-testosterone pacifists are running the Olympics? Though I do understand that wrestling is probably not the largest audience drawer in the games, we’re talking about a sport that pre-dates the Olympics themselves—and I’m not just talking about the modern Olympics.
Wrestling can be traced back thousands of years to Egyptian cave drawings. Back in the days when the Spartan infantry was the dominant force in Europe, what did they use to train their soldiers and keep them in shape and mentally tough? Wrestling. The Romans adopted a great deal of these same techniques for their own use (hence the term “Greco-Roman”). When American settlers began moving west, they discovered wrestling to be quite popular among various Indian tribes. As a concept it has even been mentioned in various folklore and mythology going back for thousands upon thousands of years.
The point being that wrestling is, at its core, one of the most fundamental “sports” man has ever engaged in; it owes itself to the basis of combat and, as a result, is the most primal and purest form of one-on-one competition known to mankind. Man has known for a very long time the benefits of this sport.
These concepts have not changed—we are not “evolved” to the point where wrestling or grappling is somehow beneath us or we have figured out better ways to train. As I have written before, grappling takes all of life’s lessons and distills them down to their most basic form and forces the individual to deal with them in the here and now—not in the hypothetical, but where your body feels the immediate effect of making the wrong choice.
But the geniuses on the IOC apparently know better. They are telling us that Rhythmic Gymnastics is a better sport. Have you ever watched Rhythmic Gymnastics? It’s dancing. And I don’t care how much athletic skill it takes, for those of you getting all mad and ready to write and tell us that dancers are strong and athletic. Yes, they are. So are ballet dancers. So are the dancers that have to keep up with Beyonce. Those break dancers that were incredibly popular when I was in junior high also had a lot of physical skill, but I don’t see people clamoring to make that an Olympic sport.
How about badminton? If the argument is being made that they only dropped wrestling because it wasn’t drawing a large enough audience, are they really going to sell us on badminton being a huge attention getter? Are there a ton of people lining up to see a couple people smack a birdie (or whatever the hell it’s called) over a net that can’t decide if it is set for volleyball or tennis?
Then we have equestrian. What types of folk do you suppose make it into the Olympics as equestrian “athletes”? As a wrestler, a kid could easily come from the poorest neighborhood in the United States and have a single mom who is barely making ends meet and still become one of the best wrestlers in the world. Think that’s possible in equestrian? Not only no, but hell no; it’s a rich kids’ sport, pure and simple. Sure, there may be some of you out there who didn’t grow up wealthy and you had a horse or two, but you couldn’t have competed at that level without the best horse, the best trainers, and a whole list of other stuff that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s not a sport decided on athletic skill and mental fortitude so much as it is on mom and dad’s bank account.
And so it has become that wrestling has taken a back seat to events such as these. In this ever-increasing namby-pamby world that we live in, the idea of one-on-one combat where individuals must use their most fundamental physical and mental attributes to succeed is probably considered too mean, too aggressive, and just too darn hard for the modern athlete.
I say screw ‘em. They can take their dancing and their super expensive horses and completely turn the Olympics into the spectacle of media slobbering it was already becoming. Let the Olympics become a place where everyone can come up with a “triumph over tragedy” story where the media falls all over themselves trying to make each athlete seem as though they shouldn’t be alive, let alone playing…table tennis.
In the meantime, combat athletes can know, deep down, that what they are doing transcends the Olympics; it goes beyond having a medal draped around their neck or having the National Anthem played for them. Their sport is how warriors have been made since the dawn of time and doesn’t need to be validated by a committee who thinks that diving into a pool of water has more business being a “sport” than wrestling. We’ll keep training while they continue to reflect a world that would rather celebrate pretty horses with rich kids on them than athletics in its most natural form.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure anything cool should be associated with the Olympics anymore. This is the same organization that keeps putting food on the table for Champion Douchebag Bob Costas, after all…