Sports Commentary 2/13/13: Bring Back Chariot Racing
BRING BACK CHARIOT RACING
I don’t know what to tell you, I really don’t. I’m not ducking the issue, I’m just ignorant of the subject. There’s a litany of potential reasons. We can argue all day over the validity of any of them, but if, as many presume, it’s political, I really don’t understand the political workings within the International Olympic Committee. This much I do know, wrestling was one of the original Olympic sports, in both Olympics, way back at the beginning of recorded time, and way back at the modern beginning, about 120 years ago, but as of the 2020 games it will go the way of at least one other original Olympic sport, into Olympic extinction. I also know the Olympics has become very political and many of these decisions are based on the makeup of the IOC, particularly it’s 15 member executive board. The modern penthalon was believed by many to be the sport on the chopping block when the IOC executive board met yesterday in Switzerland to propose the core 25 sports for the 2020 games, to go into a pool of eight sports, including baseball, softball and roller sports, that will be in competition for a berth in those games. Wrestling is given little chance of emerging from that competition and being reinstated. I find it ironic that when the executive board meets in May to make it’s recommendation on which sport to add to the core 25, that meeting will take place in St. Petersburg. While wrestling is generally accepted as a universal sport, there has been a narrow range of nations that have been successful in it over the last quarter century. Russia, standing alone or as a member of the former Soviet Union, is one of them. None of the executive board members are from Russia, nor are any from the United States. The two nations have combined to win nearly 300 wrestling medals. Jim Scherr is a former U.S. wrestler and former CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. While he told USA Today he didn’t think the decision of the board was aimed at any nation in particular, like the eliminations of baseball and softball in 2005 appeared to be a direct slap at the United States, he did feel the decision is “A reflection of the Eurocentric nature of the IOC board and the IOC membership as a whole.” The Middle East nations join the U.S. and Russia as the most successful in the sport of wrestling. International wrestling executives are more pointed in their opinion of the decision, Rich Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling, telling USA Today the decision was made by uninformed individuals. Considering the nature of the sport, and the diversity of it’s competitors, with little regard for race, color or size, it would seem there is some validity to that last argument. But it’s not for me to say. What do I know? Heck, if it were up to me I’d like to see them reinsate one of the original sports they dropped centuries ago. Chariot racing. Good thing it’s not up to me, though, in this case, I might have made a better decision. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.