Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Save Olympic Wrestling

776 B.C. in Olympia, Greece, The entity we now know as The Olympics began. The ones who started it wanted to not only honor their Gods and Goddesses, they also wanted to see who exactly was the best athlete in the world.

To both appease their Gods and to definitively decide who was the best in the world, they needed a sport that could act as a showcase for humanity's best points. A contest to show agility, smarts, speed and brute strength. Something that could captivate a restless crowd while still giving scholars something to muse over.

The prime choice of course, was wrestling. Albeit it took them until at least 706 B.C. to come up with such an obvious answer.

Wrestling began with humanity as a way to settle differences among cavemen, start and end wars, to hunt and was even used as a way to show the opposite sex the absolute best a combatant had to offer. As the Bible was being penned, it was still being used as a way to help attract mates. The stronger the wrestler was, the smarter he was in combat, the more attractive he seemed as a protector, mate and father. Without a doubt, the people behind the Olympics had chosen the best sport in the world to headline what was to become a history changing event.

While cavemen and early humans had grown comfy with the version of wrestling we have on television today (the kind that has you both grappling and using weapons on unsuspecting victims), in Greece, a freestyle form of grappling (that would evolve into Greco-Roman) was the in-thing of the day, and wound up being the focal point of the games.

Of course, wrestling has never been on the card without it's jealous naysayers. In Egypt by this point, they had already declared it "dying" or a "dead fad", having already had it as a pastime as early as 2400 B.C., but then again, nobody really paid those marks any attention, because those people were obsessed with spamming pyramid walls with cat memes.

Although, I can give them credit for inventing MoCap Wrestling:
Other detractors denounced this new form, heavy on mat grapples as an excuse to be seen lying with another man, but the Olympic committee denounced this notion as nonsense, and continued to have wrestling as a main attraction.

The Olympics continued on for several hundred years before being suppressed off and on, starting in the 300's B.C. Finally, in 1896, the games resumed like none of this ever happened, and with the exception of the games in 1900, wrestling has always been on the card, though in recent years, NBC has moved the televising of said sport to ungodly o'clock in the morning.

So considering the historical importance of wrestling to the Olympics, imagine my shock and utter disgust when it was announced today, that the Olympic committee wants to drop wrestling from their games.

... I'm sorry WHAT?

Rumored reasons give little credence to the proclamation. One rumor is that they want to start capping how many athletes can attend the games. Another states they feel wrestling is "too old" and can't connect with people in these times. But the #1 rumor is that they want to drop wrestling, because it's no longer "up to par" with the quality they want to have on these shows.

... Excuse me, quality?? Quality?? For real?? We are talking about the same committee who...

1. Allows coaches to starve teenage girls into near anorexia, stunting their growth and stopping them from finishing puberty, so their 4'7 frames can better fit the ever shrinking bars.
2. Allows coaches to work underage athletes from 2 in the morning until nearly midnight, to train for competitions that require said athlete to perform acrobatic stunts off of a beam not even the same width as a VHS tape.
3. Insists that gymnasts, ice skaters and swimmers wear skin-tight, revealing costumes in front of children.
4. Actually thinks that Golf, an event that requires you to swing a club at a tiny, white ball, and then leisurely walk or ride a cart across a stretch of land, is more of a sport than wrestling ~ where you actually DO put your body on the line.

Who exactly are they to decide what quality is?

Reality check time.

If anything, the Olympics themselves are an outdated concept that is struggling to stay relevant. Even releasing a video game series based on it, starring Sonic and Mario has done absolutely nothing to make the Olympics seem worth the 2-3 weeks they bombard television.

With that said, they need wrestling.

Yes, wrestling is as old as our species is, perhaps even older, as scientists believe that dinosaurs used wrestling as a way to hunt for food. But it speaks to a human need we still have. The need to see who really is eligible to say he/she is the best in the world.

As humans, we crave the competition, the art, the drama, the graceful athleticism. Wrestling delivers these basic human needs and desires like no other sport can. Be it Pro, Greco, Technical, Lucha, Freestyle, Sumo, Turkish, Hardcore, Arial or any other kind you can think of, Wrestling is part of the human experience. And it is a crime to think for even an instant that there is no version of it that can still hold a relevance to humanity.

And Wrestling has a passion to it, rivaling that of such great pastimes as Baseball and American-style Football. When people think about the 1996 Olympiad, they don't remember the SNES game (I have it), who won that year's skeet shooting event (you shoot guns at a disc... that's NOT a sport, that's a HOBBY) or even who won the gold for track or swimming. They remember Kurt Angle, breaking his neck while wrestling in the memory of his mentor and murdered wrestler Dave Schultz, and still somehow, some way, being able to win the gold for the United States. A boyhood dream that could easily make a theater full of muscular, American men WEEP should it become a theatrical film, and yet this is what the Olympic committee wants to leave in the dust?

And just like wrestling itself, Kurt Angle has been passionate about that day, being one of the only Olympians to keep alive the glory and rich history of the games. While you have your Olympic committee approved and praised athletes like Bruce Jenner, openly ignoring the Olympics and using their medals simply as decoration or as something to propel them into crappy reality shows and as an excuse to bully and belittle their daughters, Kurt Angle holds his medals with pride, talks about the struggles the other Olympians faced to get anywhere near the things, and he never lets himself or anyone else forget that the games hold meaning. A wrestler, a pro wrestler does this. Most Olympians do not hold their history in the same honor.

The power wrestling has is so strong, TNA and WWE are rumored to be dropping their differences for a moment, just to see to it that the sport has a fighting chance this year, as the committee makes their final decision this May. Bitter rivals, on speaking terms, even if only temporarily, just to fix the damage an out of touch committee has done.

The committee has it all wrong. We need wrestling.

We can live without the Olympics.

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