This Is the End


Markets, Risk and Human Interaction

February 12, 2013

Wrestling and the Olympics

The International Olympic Committee has announced that wrestling will be removed from the summer games starting in 2020. I find this decision incomprehensible. I can only rationalize it if I rethink the Olympics as, well, some grand-scale ratings event. But if it has to do with athletics, and if it seeks to maintain a thread of history extending back to the Athenian Olympics, this decision is nonsensical.

In the meantime, we have golf enter the Olympics. Not too many years ago that would have been thought to be a joke. For others, like tennis and soccer, the Olympics is overshadowed by other tournaments. Who would rather win the Olympics than Wimbledon or the World Cup? And yet others, like swimming, have become a numbing presence. We are treated to just about every possible permutation of ways to traverse water: pool lengths = {1, 2, 4,...} x swimming styles = {breast stroke, freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, medley} x participants in the event = {one person, four people}. And add to that a panoply of events for diving into the water and dancing around in the water. Why? Because it sells advertising.

In terms of combat sports, wrestling is the last bastion. The Olympics have structured the rules for boxing in way that has degenerated it into a game of tag with gloves. Tae Kwon Do is a game of tag with the feet. I have already discussed the bastardization of these sports by the Olympics. And I have proposed that the Olympics reach back to the ancient games to add the one event that is not in the modern Olympics: Pankration. In our modern day this is best represented by mixed martial arts. Given the role Brazil has had in the development of MMA, it would have been fitting to have it introduced in 2016. Well, that isn't going to happen. The Olympics is moving one step further away from athletics, and rather than adding to the ancient roots of the games, they are severing one of the remaining links.