Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Olympic business

I'm prompted to write this piece after reading that wrestling will not be in the 2020 Olympic Games. I should start by saying that I wouldn't be surprised if some of the views I hold are not actually based on fact, but instead on some myths I have formed in my head.  Myths or not, they are my beliefs, and I think they have merit.

The reason for removing wrestling is pure and simple - popularity (read money).  The Olympic Games, once the bastion of athletic ideals - Faster, Higher, Stronger, are now the bastion of capitalism - More, More, More.  Wrestling is one of the original events from the modern Olympic Games, so one might ask why the need for change.  The answer is to make room for other sports - lets take a look at a few of the sports that have been added recently, see if you can pick a theme: tennis, rugby, football (soccer), golf, basketball.  These are all professional sports with high TV ratings, they are being added so the Olympic Games can be more "successful" (ie bigger, more TV, more money).

In my view, events in the Olympic Games should meet the following criteria:

  1. They should be amateur in nature. I don't mean that athletes shouldn't be sponsored or endorsed, but they shouldn't have contract with their club that pays them to compete.
  2. The Olympic Games should be the pinnacle of the sport. This immediately rules out my hitlist of tennis, rugby, football (soccer), golf and basketball. I would add that road cycling should be removed - the Tour de France is clearly its pinnacle, however track cycling should stay.

The sad thing about all this is it appears to be irreversible.  I would love to read something that made me think a change could be made, and sport could again be sport.

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