Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wrestling: Politics Ruining Olympic Sports - again!

When I heard wrestling was out of the Olympics, I was initially shocked - and then I wasn't. I was shocked because, come on - wrestling? It's one of the original sports, it's practiced all over the world, it has much higher TV viewership than modern pentathlon. Quick, without resorting to Google, tell me exactly what modern pentathlon IS? Exactly. You don't know and you don't care either.

While ostensibly decisions were made based on TV viewership, global participation and anti-doping, wrestling had more viewers and participation than modern pentathlon and only one doping violation.

It's no surprise to me that the decision was made on political grounds.

When we were writing, Winning on the Ground, Jim Pedro and I argued about a lot of things in addition to mat work. One point he would never give up on was,
I can't believe you never wanted  to go to the Olympics. 

He was convinced that I must somehow have felt cheated because women's judo didn't become an Olympic sport until 1988. I  had Ronda in 1987 and her sister, Jenn, in 1986, so going to the Olympics was not on my to-do list. Also, I was in the middle of my doctoral program by then. As I have explained about a hundred times - and I don't know if this will make anyone in wrestling feel better, but it might ....

You forget what was going on with the Olympics. In 1980, no one from the U.S. went to the Olympics. We boycotted it. I had friends who made the men's team and they didn't get to go either. For the athletes who did go, in a lot of sports, without the U.S. and some of its allies there, it was an Olympics with an asterisk. You didn't really beat the whole world. In 1984, with the eastern block countries boycotting, again, you didn't really know that you were best in the world. You were the best of the people who were not prevented from competing due to political reasons. It continues to this day, remember the Iranian player who forfeited his match in the Olympics. He was coincidentally matched against an Israeli player? 
I wanted to be best on the planet. I didn't care about opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, Olympic gear from Ralph Lauren or running around telling people I was an Olympian. I wanted to beat everyone in the world. If that's what you want and you are a wrestler, you can still be best in the world and that is an unbelievable feeling. I am very sorry you got screwed by politics. If it is any consolation - and I know it isn't - it's just the latest in a sad trend.


Anonymous said...

AnnMaria-sensei, your kids will always be more important than ANY Olympics ever will be.

anonymous parent from West Coast Judo Training Center

Dr. AnnMaria said...

You could not be more correct.

dave schaeffer said...

No more wrestling in the olympics?. Now I can submit my sports, holding your breath and staring contests. I'm practicing right now......