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(image courtesy of THE Oregon State University)

(image courtesy of THE Oregon State University)

A proposal to trim wrestling from the Olympic Games is a blessing in disguise.

Here’s why:

The first Olympics without wrestling would be 2020. The hosting choices are Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid.

Japan is an international wrestling powerhouse. If they get the Games and a vote on events, wrestling stays.

Turkey considers wrestling an ‘ancestral sport‘ with a world team title in 2009. If Istanbul gets the Olympics, wrestling stays.

Spain is a tougher call. Soccer and basketball climb international rankings, but a search for wrestling in Spain shows something called Horse Wrestling. Madrid and wrestling might not mix.

And they’re not alone.

Before calling and posting outrage over Olympic wrestling, look at Oregon for an example of what happens when a worthy activity shrinks from neglect. Colleges and high schools drop wrestling and after enough time passes no one remembers if it was ever on campus.

The consistent factor in wrestling programs are the athletes.

Uncertain coaches, poor practice rooms, and a constant struggle for relevance hinder wrestling, but not the wrestlers. Once they square off from the men’s or women’s team, the details of the sport are secondary.

One thing from its participants stands above other activities: If you don’t pay keen attention, you will pay the consequences in discomfort. Wrestling does that across the board from beginner to expert.

With no time between plays or pitches, no rest during a foul shot, wrestling is a go-sport where you go until you can’t go anymore, then find a way to go again.

Even with wrestling off the sports page, you’d still see aspects of it.

Football linemen use wrestling technique to avoid blocks the same way basketball players position for better rebounding under the basket.

One wrestling example in the NBA is Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets, a two-time schoolboy champion in Texas, while the NFL is full of former wrestlers like Ray Lewis.

The big guys in sports know the value of wrestling, but the message filters out.

New organizations like Restore College Wrestling-Oregon work to revive the message. They identify twenty colleges in Oregon that quit wrestling since the 1970’s, big schools like University of Oregon and Portland State.

The International Olympic Committee choosing the modern pentathlon over wrestling took a page from the Ducks who traded wrestling for women’s acrobatics and tumbling. The group behind Restore College Wrestling-Oregon appeals to young wrestling families joining the sport.

It’s the right thing to do. The benefits of a wrestler in the house multiply over time.

One Oregon book serves as a blueprint for wrestling families. Wrestling With The Devil by Tonya Russo Hamilton and Antonio Russo follows the plight of a young Tony coming to Oregon and finding his way with wrestling’s help. He grows by his experiences to join the wrestling legacy in Newberg, Oregon.

If your son or daughter enjoys an active life, and you understand how exercise improves brain development, then wrestling is a great sports choice.

Show the Olympic people and college administrators the error of their decisions and take it to the mats. Your kids will thank you and you’ll have the time of your life in the wrestling family.


About David Gillaspie
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