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US Legislators stand up for Olympic wrestling - and you can too…

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Author: Aaron Steed

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Tags: Meathead History

US Legislators stand up for Olympic wrestling—and you can too…

Save Olympic Wrestling

How many times can you remember in past few years when our elected officials crossed the aisles to find bipartisan support for any one cause? Take a minute to think about it.

Yeah—very few.

But since the International Olympic Committee’s odd decision to exclude wrestling—a crucial part of the first modern Olympics and also a U.S. strength—from a list its 25 “core” sports and thus cut from the itinerary, the reaction has been swift and absolute.

Since April 15, no less than 20 states have passed resolutions showing their strong support for keeping wrestling as a featured Olympic sport, including California.

Meathead Movers is especially concerned with this issue, not only because we firmly believe in the importance the role of scholastic athletics plays in a student’s life, but also because we know firsthand how wrestling is one of those sports that truly helps shape us and millions of men and women around the world into hard-working and confident individuals.

So we reached out to the IOC and asked them what it was all about. Why—in a major event that comes only every four years, one that was born in Greece, the same as the professional sport of wrestling—of all things, would they cut wrestling?

The answer was less than satisfying.

Certainly their decision does nothing to combat the idea that the bigwigs at the executive board of the IOC by eliminating popular sports such as wrestling, baseball and softball.

Why should California care? Because has the most high school wrestlers of any state in the nation, with some 27,000 high school boys wrestling and 2,000 girls wrestling in the 2011-12 year, according to statistics from California USA Wrestling, one of the leading state associations in the nation, with some 17,000 members last year.

California has produced a myriad of Olympic wrestling medalists, including Olympic champions Dave Schultz, Mark Schultz and Jake Varner, Olympic silver medalists Stephen Abas, Jamill Kelly, Townsend Saunders and Greg Gibson, Olympic bronze medalists Patricia Miranda and Adam Wheeler plus numerous World champions and medalists in all three styles, according to California USA Wrestling’s website.

And that feeling seems to be shared by many across the nation, as well as overseas. In trying to raise awareness to this issue, we contacted our local legislator, State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and asked him his thoughts. He was more than receptive.

After a lengthy discussion, he agreed to direct his staff to do some research on the issue and perhaps craft a resolution from the State Legislature urging the IOC to keep the important sporting event.

But it seems we were a little late to the game. In the course of their research, Achadjian’s staff found that there was already such a resolution in the works. Sen. Lou Correa, Democratic senator from California’s 34th District, which includes Anaheim, had already presented a similar statement of resolve on the state senate’s side, Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 26.

Stressing the importance this issue held to his constituents, Katcho was made a principle coauthor to SCR 26. On April 9, the resolution passed the Senate with a unanimous 37-0 vote.

“After hearing from my constituents about the essential role wrestling has played in their lives, I am proud to sign on as a principle coauthor for SCR 26, which will urge the International Olympic Committee to continue to include this historic sport in the Summer Olympic Games,” Achadjian wrote back in an email.

To prove this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue, Achadjian’s counterpart in the State Senate also signed on without any debate. Staff members for newly elected Democratic State Sen. Bill Monning responded to a request for comment explaining that he was in full support of the resolution since it crossed his desk.

So, if there’s so much support for keeping the sport as is, what is the IOC thinking? We reached out to the IOC’s media reps, and though they declined us an interview, they sent us an email attempting to explain the though process behind the decision.

“The Olympic Programme Commission’s report is based on 39 criteria and over 70 questions. There is no single reason why a sport would not make the list of 25 core sports, but the decision was made based on numerous factors,” the unnamed IOC representative wrote in an email to Meathead Movers. “The Olympic Programme must balance historical perspective with new trends, universal participation and regional preferences, team and individuals sports, combat and artistic disciplines. In other words, it must appeal to the interests of people of all ages around the world. It has to cater for all tastes.”

Okay…

“Thus the determination of the core sports and the composition of the Olympic Programme is a complex matter and not a simple task,” he or she added.

But even if they ignore the fervor they’ve caused, there’s still hope that you’ll be seeing wrestling in the 2020 or 2024 Olympics. The IOC rep also added that wrestling, along with 7 other “shortlisted” sports—baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, and wushu—will be presented to the IOC’s executive board on May 29 prior to their vote to finally determine which sports will be included in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Programme, they said.

Wrestling may very well be one of those sports selected for inclusion at the big meeting in Buenos Aires in September, they said. But we’re not taking their word for it.

If you think wrestling is an important Olympic event—like we do—let the IOC know. Send an email. Make a phone call. Hound their press people at pressoffice@olympic.org. Believe us, the message will get across. Or join the FacebookMovement: http://www.facebook.com/officialkeepwrestlingintheolympics. Or visit USA Wrestling's official webpage: http://keepwrestlingintheolympics.com.

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