I’ll have a column on the International Olympic Committee dropping wrestling from the Olympics later today, but here are some quick thoughts before then”
When you have been anywhere in the world and heard someone say “I am captivated by modern pentathlon,” or “My son/daughter has a dream to be a modern pentathlon champion,” or “I wish our high school offered modern pentathlon?”
OK, this is a provinicial point of view. I’m in Iowa, where amateur wrestling is more than just another sport. But it’s also been more than just another sport in the Olympics, which is on the verge of dropping wrestling from the 2020 Summer Games. Wrestling dates to the first modern Olympiad, in 1896. And the reality is, it dates way beyond that.
However, wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey. Reportedly, it came down to modern pentathlon and wrestling on the fourth ballot, and wrestling was the loser.
Modern pentathlon. Well, it’s a one-day Olympic event that includes five events: Pistol shooting, fencing, 200-meters freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3-kilometer cross-country run. You do all five, you try to rack up points. The running and shooting disciplines are contested in tandem. It’s great for training bank-robbers, I guess.
Look, here’s the deal with the International Olympic Committee. It’s no different than major-college sports. It’s all about the money. As Phil Hersh, who has covered Olympic sports for decades for the Chicago Tribune, pointed out Tuesday, taekwondo probably survived because of money. It’s an important sport in Korea, Hersh noted on Twitter, and South Korea-headquartered Samsung is one of the IOC’s big sponsors.
Wrestling’s international governing organization is FILA, which must be run by a bunch of bunglers. If you can’t spread out enough graft to keep your sport in the Olympics against the likes of modern pentathlon, which had competitors from just 26 countries in the 2012 London Olympics, you need a new governing organization.