Wrestling cut from Olympics

Jacob Varner of the United States celebrated his gold medal victory in a 1-0, 1-0 match against Ukraine’s Valerii Andriitsev in the mens’ 96kg freestyle final at the ExCeL centre during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England, Sunday, August 12, 2012. (David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT)

If you care at all about the Olympics, you just might know what’s going on in the sports community right now. If not, then prepare to be outraged.

The International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday that a sport that has been part of the modern Olympics since 1896 would be cut from the summer Olympics starting in 2020. That’s right, I’m talking about wrestling.

Eastern Michigan University’s wrestling season is coming to an end soon, but the IOC has decided to end its Olympic relationship as a whole.

Needless to say, fans all over the world are outraged. There doesn’t even seem to be a solid reason for the drop.

In an Associated Press article, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, “It’s not a case of what’s wrong with wrestling, it is what’s right with the 25 core sports.”

Well what’s so right about the other sports and not wrestling? EMU wrestling head coach Derek DelPorto has his own theories about why wrestling has been knocked out of the schedule.

“It was obviously a misrepresented sport [in the IOC meetings] when the conversation of the 25 sports for 2020 included 24 sports and not wrestling,” DelPorto said. “Most of the IOC members are from Western Europe; not an area of the world where wrestling is popular.”

Wrestling seems to be extremely popular compared to other sports that were kept. Have you ever heard of the modern pentathlon? I just discovered what it is and I certainly don’t know anyone in the sport. On the other hand, I’m around wrestlers on a weekly basis.

Cutting wrestling from the Olympics has been a devastating decision to wrestlers of all ages.
EMU redshirt freshman wrestler Vincent Pizzuto said if they are going to cut wrestling out of the Olympics they should cut college wrestling as well.

“The next step after college wrestling is the Olympics,” he said. “The IOC is taking away the next level of wrestling for all college wrestling athletes.”

There isn’t a version of the NFL or MLB for wrestling. If the higher levels of wrestling keep being eliminated, what will the young wrestlers have to look forward to? Many families are raised on the mat. Wrestling can and has changed entire perspectives and personalities. Wrestling is life-changing.

“People all across the world love this sport, know how much this sport has given them,” Pizzuto said. “Without this sport in the Olympics, the IOC is taking away the dreams of wrestlers all across the world looking to become an Olympic gold-medalist champion.”

The most interesting part is how the wrestling world is responding.

“The wrestling world, on an international level, is really coming together to fight this, and that’s something really cool to see and be proud of,” EMU redshirt junior wrestler Phillip Joseph said.

“Even [mixed martial arts] associations such as Bellator and UFC are being strong advocates to save the sport.”

As for the future, wrestling fans need to remain positive. There is hope when wrestling competes against baseball and softball, karate, roller sports, rock climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu to vie for a spot in the 2020 Olympics.

Representatives of the sports will make presentations to the IOC Executive Board in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May.

“For now, us wrestling people need to stay optimistic that the higher ups in our sport will bring a fight to the IOC. Other than that, I’m not sure what to say,” DelPorto said. “If rock climbing or roller skating become an Olympic sport while some of the greatest athletes in the world sit home in 2020, I’m scared what the sporting world will become.”

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