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A misguided decision

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Let's get right to the crux of the matter. I am not a huge wrestling fan but the International Olympic Committee's decision to drop wrestling from the 2020 Games is incredibly stupid. And borders on the criminal. Read on.


••••••••••

• Think back to the ancient Olympics. You know, the ones in Greece when the best of Sparta would match up with the best of Athens with city-state pride on the line. The No. 1 spectator sport back then? Well, it was hyena skinning, but No. 2 was wrestling. Big old Greek guys, more than likely without a stitch of clothing on, trying to pin each other. It's a sport with roots so old and gnarly it predates even me. When the Olympics were resurrected in the 19th Century, wrestling had to be part of the fun. After all, the Olympics were reborn to honor a past ideal: People could put down their weapons and funnel their national pride on the athletic field and court. It was a myth, of course, and the modern Olympics have been as rife with conflict as any ancient war. Most times, with Munich in 1972 the huge exception, the conflict is reserved for the boardrooms at IOC meetings. Such was the case the past few weeks as the IOC finished the process of winnowing sports in a misguided attempt to keep costs down and keep the games attractive to television. First off, the Olympics already cost even more than Vince Young's monthly expenses, so why worry about burgeoning budgets? If a city wants to host the darn things, they'll figure out how to pay for 100 sports if need be. And television? Every major broadcast entity in the world is adding channels, not contracting. And they all need programming for them (ESPN8, the Ocho, may not be just a satirical channel soon). Anyhow, sports like fencing and shooting become once-every-four-years subjects of water-cooler discussion and that's how it should be. Which brings us to Tuesday, the day wrestling died (or at least the respirator was turned off; there is still life in the old boy just yet). The IOC wants to keep the Olympics to 28 sports and the committee wants to include newer sports that will attract younger viewers and a broader audience. But then why keep a stodgy discipline like modern pentathlon, which should have seen its last days when polo, croquet and tug-of-war were dropped, and ax wrestling? In 2012, 20 countries sent modern pentathlon participants to London. Wrestling, by contrast, had 29 different countries recognized on the medal stand, ranging from Azerbaijan to Colombia, from Estonia to Japan. And the sport is being let go. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You don't think there was something hinky going on behind those closed doors, do you? The fact that certain sports have really, really rich people supporting them in times of trouble couldn't have had anything to do with the decision, could it? Nah. Not with the high standards of the IOC.

•••

• Washington State: The Cougars return to the Pac-12 battles tonight – I'll be in Pullman working for the Oregonian – with a matchup with the one school they have dominated recently: Oregon State. Christian Caple used today's advance as a chance to speak with coach Ken Bone about his future. He also has more on his usual blog post from Bone's press conference. Christian also has his morning blog post. … We found some more links of interest to Cougar fans, including Bud Withers wondering if the new Pac-12 basketball schedule is hurting attendance, some thoughts on the conference's resurgence and a name many fans may recognize in a totally different context. … Chris Derrick's women's basketball notebook (and this blog post) begins with a feature on WSU's Carly Noyes. … According to CoachingSearch.com, former WSU defensive line coach Todd Howard is headed to Canada. And former linebackers coach Jeff Choate will make $190,000 as UTEP's defensive coordinator. It's still not enough to have to live in El Paso.

• Gonzaga: Can the Zags finish the season No. 1 in the nation? It's possible though a big hurdle pops up Thursday night.

• Whitworth: Lewis & Clark clinched the fourth, and final, playoff spot in the Northwest Conference last night.

• Preps: There was a lot of action on the high school front last night, starting with Greg Lee getting comment from local wrestling folks on the IOC's decision on the eve of the 25th Mat Classic in Tacoma. … We were at University last night as the Titan boys demolished Kennewick in the 3A playoffs. … Mike Vlahovich was at Mt. Spokane, where the Wildcats were upset in the first round of the 3A girls playoffs. … Greg also had coverage of the boys and girls 4A loser-out games and we had a roundup of other action.

• Chiefs: Spokane hosts the apt-named Hitmen tonight in the Arena.

• Indians: Nope, nothing yet from Spokane, but the new stadium in Hillsboro, Ore., is coming together.

• Mariners: So Felix Hernandez is going to be a Mariner for another seven years. All it took was $175 million to make it happen. Curse my weak arm. The question now, is it a good deal for Seattle? That's for you to decide. … Jesus Montero says he had nothing to do with the Biogenesis clinic in Florida. … Mike Carp is in the process of being released. Hopefully he'll catch on somewhere (sorry, couldn't resist the fishing pun). … The Indians had the offseason as it relates to offensive players the M's should have had. Cleveland spent less and got two players than the M's offered Josh Hamilton. A leadoff guy and some power. Seems like the Indians got a good deal.

• Sounders: The Reign's 2013 NWSL schedule has been finalized.

•••

• That's it for today. We might be a bit late tomorrow because we will be getting back a bit late from Pullman tonight. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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