The International Olympic Committee's decision has been met globally with repugnance, disbelief, anger, and vigorous advocacy for a sport that goes back to the ancient games in Greece. As a result of the decision, the head of the international wrestling federation was fired, and 10 countries – including the United States and Russia – met in Iran last week to strategize on influencing the IOC at a meeting in May. A final decision will be made in September.
The fallout from the takedown of wrestling is a shock not only for the 344 Olympic wrestlers who competed in 2012 (including wrestlers from 29 countries who took home medals), but millions of young athletes, coaches, parents, and fans of amateur wrestling around the world.
More than 56,000 people have signed a petition on change.org. The Save Wrestling Facebook page has close to 41,000 members. My oldest son, Weldon, created a Facebook page, Olympic Wrestling Forever. While none of my sons made it to the Olympics, I know what amateur wrestling does for a young man and an increasing number of young women.
In the US, 272,000 young men and 8,200 young women compete on the high school level in wrestling, according to the National Federation of High Schools. Many of them dream of the Olympics. Eliminating the sport from the Olympics not only kills that dream for American wrestlers, it dissolves the recognized importance of a sport that changes, enhances, and saves lives around the world. Dropping the sport from the Olympics could also decrease participation, which, in the US, has expanded by 40,000 wresters over the past decade.