Grappling with Olympic folly
Gamecock and Tiger fans know television runs big-time sports. That’s why they usually don’t know kickoff times less than two weeks — and occasionally less than one week — before football games.
That way, networks can maximize ratings by putting the best matchups in the best time slots.
Still, Tuesday’s decision by the International Olympic Committee to drop wrestling from the Summer Games (as of 2020) inflicted a figurative double-leg takedown on many folks who have long — and rightly — associated that epic sport with the ancient Olympic tradition.
As The New York Times reported: “Apart from track and field, wrestling is considered by many the oldest competitive sport, one that made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C.”
And: “A shift in priority has occurred in an era of outsize television contracts as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance.”
OK, so relatively few Americans can name the two U.S. wrestlers who won freestyle gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics: Jake Varner and Jordan Burroughs.
Yes, far more Americans know that The Rock is the current World Wrestling Entertainment champ — though C.M. Punk stole his belt on “Monday Night Raw.”
But Kurt Angle, who won wrestling gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and Brock Les-nar, the 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion, remain rasslin’ stars.
Meanwhile, plenty of viewers apparently find synchronized swimming, ribbon dancing and ballroom dancing appealing.
Yet if the IOC goes through with its decision to drop wrestling from the Games while keeping those “sports,” why call it the Olympics?
At least the timeless art of one-and-one grappling (no tag teams), in both its Greco-Roman and freestyle forms, hasn’t been permanently pinned out of the Games yet: The IOC can still correct this mistake in May.
And to borrow another wrestling term, that would be a winning reversal.