By Shain Gillet
Sunday was probably the biggest day in years for anyone in the wrestling community.
Fans, wrestlers, coaches and those tied to wrestling in some way, shape or form received great news that afternoon as wrestling, one of the sports that kick-started the Olympics, was voted back into the Olympic Games starting in 2020.
The sport will remain until the 2024 Games, but people are hopeful that it will never come to another vote.
The sport won’t miss a beat after initially being voted out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) roughly seven months ago, which caused so much of an uproar that even the top professionals and coaches from the sport started resigning their positions.
There was even a movement by countries such as Iran, Russia, and the U.S. to bring back the sport, which has been in the Olympics since 1896.
Imagine that, three countries so far apart in politics fighting for the sake of one sport.
Meanwhile, the IOC took a lot of heat from the media and many others inside and outside of the sport. The board likely had no choice but to vote the sport back into the rotation.
Reasons behind its removal remain aplenty, and in some cases, a mystery. Fears of performance-enhancing drug usage running rampant were a main concern, but wrestlers from around the world cried foul about the whole ordeal.
Other nonsensical reasons included a drop in viewership and/or popularity during the games, to which I say “hooey.”
Wrestling in its true form may not be as popular to watch on TV as say, “Monday Night RAW,” where there’s more time spent on dramatic scenery and false bravado than wrestling matches themselves; however, when major sports networks such as ESPN and FOX Sports start to air collegiate wrestling championships and rivalry matches between big wrestling schools, it’s a sign that people are paying attention to the sport.
Locally, high school wrestling during the winter is almost as popular as some of the other winter sports.
It may not be popular from an attendance standpoint on a match-to-match basis, but when there were errors made in last year’s Winter Sports Preview section, readers took notice and called me on it.
I applaud them for doing so. To me, having our readers call me on a mistake is a learning experience. When the mistakes came from wrestling parents, I started to realize just how important the sport is to this area.
And why not? Half the high schools in the south Davis area are coached by a Ripplinger. Around the office they’re simply known as the “wrestling Ripplinger’s,” so as not to confuse which coach belongs to which school.
For the record, Matt coaches Bountiful, and Brandon is at Viewmont.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m glad wrestling is back on the mat. It means that even high school grapplers can wish to become Olympic champions someday.