JAY DAVIS: Fight for Olympic wrestling has long row to hoe
When news that the International Olympic Committee had voted to eliminate wrestling from the next Olympics, I was as shocked as you.
Then came news that Bill and Jim Scherr would be leaders in the fight to keep Olympic wrestling alive. My first thought was this was a great move. The twins would go after this just like they did when they were active wrestlers. Only this time it would not be for personal success, it would be for the good of the game. And for the good of the Games. They have a great stable of fellow wrestlers and coaches and executives working with them, such as USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender, former Olympic champions Bruce Baumgartner, John Smith, Rulon Gardner and the great Dan Gable.
This team does not have a lot of time, and the battle they fight will be a hard one to win.
For Olympic wrestling, this is the scariest line I have seen. Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president, is the vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union and a member of the IOC board!
Wrestling was not up against just the modern pentathlon as far as which sport would be on the chopping block. There was also taekwondo and field hockey.
The IOC board said it used 39 criteria in making its decision, including things like television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy, global participation and popularity.
Here’s where it’s time to pick on the modern pentathlon. First off all, let’s talk popularity. If any of you out there can tell me what events make up the modern pentathlon, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. But you can’t look it up first. You have to be able to get the events right off the top of your head.
Man, I don’t even have to delve any further into this. Modern pentathlon is a rich man’s game. It was invented by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Samaranch Sr. was a big advocate and now Samaranch Jr. is one of its leaders.
You all know that politics on the IOC board have always had a reputation of being subversive and downright underhanded.
Right now the coalition to save Olympic wrestling is in the stage of educating people as to why the sport has to be saved. The next step will be to change IOC board members’ minds and get them to do the right thing.
When the IOC convenes again, the final decision will be made. It will be made by the same panel of 15 who put wrestling in the capsized boat it is in right now. The lobbying to get wrestling back, where it belongs, will be fierce. Let’s just hope it’s enough to get enough IOC board members to get off the side of their buddy and fellow board member and put wrestling back on the stage it so very much deserves.
As chairperson of the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling, Bill Scherr will be a guest on the “On The Mat” radio show today. I just got the info so I don’t know all the particulars, but here are a couple links. The show will be live on the Internet at www.kcnzam.com. The podcast of the show is available on theopenmat.com. Only searching will fill you in if there will be replays.