Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The IOC Cares About Money, Not Wrestling

When I found out that the IOC had dropped wrestling yesterday for the 2020 Olympics, my feelings were similar to a lot of others in that I was angry. I was both shocked and pissed off. I really enjoy wrestling (although I wish folkstyle was recognized in international competition), but even I was surprised at how much I cared, because I really don't give a shit about anything.

It takes something colossally stupid or awful to really make me sit up in my chair with anger. Although this sucks, it is much more the former than the latter. Nobody is going to die because of this decision directly, but indirectly, it has the potential to change a lot of people's lives. Henry Cejudo is an excellent example of somebody who grew up poor but was given an opportunity to be a success because of wrestling. Many people in his shoes would use wrestling as a way to help pay for college. He chose a different path and focused on the Olympics, which turned out pretty well for him since he had a gold medal at age 21. The Olympics is the ultimate goal in wrestling. It's the reason that guys like King Mo, Daniel Cormier, and Ben Askren trained for the Olympics before going into MMA. It's the reason that guys like David Taylor, Kyle Dake, and Matt McDonough will do the same.

But without the Olympics, how many people might not see a reason to stick with wrestling? Let's face it, there are minimal monetary gains from competing in wrestling. Wrestlers aren't getting full scholarships for college. There is no professional league to go to. The only real benefit is $250,000 for U.S. Olympic Wrestlers. That is well below the minimum salary for any major professional sport. Oh, and they only get it once every four years. And one other thing, they only get that if they win an Olympic Gold Medal. Let's face it, wrestlers are far more interested in that gold medal than they are the possible money from it.

But now that dream is gone. Wrestling is such a beautiful sport, because you don't need anything to wrestle. You put on shorts and a t-shirt and go wrestle in the backyard. That's what kids grow up doing. It's not just the United States that is affected by this. There are many countries, especially in the Middle East where wrestling is one of the most meaningful sports in the country. This decision by the IOC has brought Iran and the United States together on something (the picture at the top of this page is the most meaningful picture from the 2012 Olympic games). That shows how amazingly stupid it is. There is already little money in these countries which means very few positive goals that people can set past surviving, and this is just taking an incredibly meaningful avenue away from them. These kids grow up competing in freestyle wrestling with the sole goal to win The Olympics. It's not fair to take that away from them.

I enjoyed wrestling when I was young and enjoy watching it now. I can't share some sob story about how wrestling saved my life, but there are many people who can. It's the easiest sport to get into, and one of the toughest mental sports out there. It sounds cliche, but it does build character. It's a sport that breaks people and builds them back up. The fact that this is getting dropped in favor or the Modern Pentathlon. The modern pentathlon is a sports contest that includes five events: pistol shooting, fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3 km cross-country run. A 3 km run is less than 2 miles. Let's face it, if you compete in Modern Pentathlon, you're a dick. There is some piece of shit having a fancy cocktail party showing off his gold medal for Modern Pentathlon like he's a real athlete. You are not an athlete of any sort. The fact that there are people with Olympic medals in this sport is outrageous. This pisses me off, and it should piss you off.

This was a terrible decision by the IOC, and I hope they reverse that decision to keep wrestling in the Olympics. They won't, because the IOC does not care about competition. They don't care about history. They don't care about doing what's right. They care about money. Modern Pentathlon is a sport full of rich assholes, and wrestling is full of everyday people grinding through each day. In my eyes, the latter group is better than the former; it's just a shame that the IOC thinks otherwise.

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