Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wrestling dropped from the Olympics; Here are some replacement ideas

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday dropped wrestling from the Olympic program, starting with the 2020 games.
Removing one of the oldest Olympic sports was a bold decision. Wrestling, which includes freestyle and Greco-Roman events, has been around since the inaugural modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.
The committee made its decision after analyzing criteria such as television ratings, ticket sales, global participation and popularity.
Eliminating wrestling from the program allows the IOC to add a new sport later this year. The current program for the summer games includes 26 sports.
Wrestling now joins seven other sports vying for a single opening in 2020, the Associated Press reported. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
Baseball and softball were removed from the Olympics after the 2008 Beijing games. I think they should stay off the program. I’m not a fan of large team sports at the Olympics, especially ones with healthy professional leagues like baseball. As such, I support removing basketball, soccer and tennis from the summer games, too.
I’ve previously written that the Olympics should clean house and dump other sports as well. I’d toss out badminton, table tennis and the equestrian events.
The IOC should free up some more spots for new and interesting sports like sport climbing, wakeboarding and perhaps even pole dancing.
One sport on the bubble with Olympic organizers is modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 games. It combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting – the five skills required of a 19th century cavalry officer. That doesn’t sound too “modern” to me.
I say it’s time to update that sport for the 21st century. Replace fencing with mixed martial arts, swap out horse riding for Motocross and substitute running with parkour. You can keep swimming and shooting in the mix.

Related reading:

The Summer Olympic Sports of the Future (The Atlantic; Aug. 13, 2012)

Photos: Michelle Stanek, United States Pole Dance Champion 2012 (top); and sport climber Johanna Ernst.

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