The IOC announced it may abandon Olympic wrestling after the 2016 Games. The decision has left a sour taste. USA Wrestling wants to engage other top wrestling nations in an international campaign to keep the sport. One of those nations is “axis of evil”member Iran.
“It’s their national sport. I would think Iran would be devastated without having wrestling in the Olympics,” says Strobel.
“They’re really into it. I coached the junior world team in 1997, and the championships were in Denmark. It was the year after the Olympics, and I coached in the ’96 games. As I got on the bus to go over to the venue, these Iranians were on the bus. We’re talking 18-year-olds. And they all go, ‘Coach Strobel! ‘ I said, ‘How do you know I’m coach Strobel?’ ” They go, ‘Oh, we see you at the Olympics.’
“They watched every match of the Olympics.”
International athletics can always be depended upon to break down barriers, or, alternatively, to exhibit no conduct standards upon which to erect them.
Like many, we were perplexed at the IOC’s decision. One would assume wrestling, present at the actual Olympics in Greece, would be a core event, or at least safe in a stable of sports that includes beach volleyball and BMX racing. The problem is, like many, we like the idea of wrestling. We have no interest in watching, writing or reading about wrestling.
Olympic sports are vehicles to fuel television rights. Unless wrestling can find a way to incorporate DJs and skimpy bikini bottoms to attract those coveted 18-34s, it may be in serious trouble.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]