Welcome to the first edition of Defending The Dumb, where we take a look at something in the news that a lot of people are raging over, and point out why it’s not nearly as bad as people claim. But only real news stories, so don’t worry about us defending the recent meteor strike or something. When the meteor gets busted for drugs, releases a sex tape, is caught lip-syncing, or gets stuck on a boat for a week straight, THEN we might have something to say. Until then, it’s just a boring ol’ rock that could have potentially caused a global extinction event had it been just a tiny bit bigger. We can do better.
And what better way to do so, than with a topic that seemingly everybody is pissed off about: the Olympics are dropping wrestling from their 2020 roster. That’s right everyone; 2016 is your FINAL chance to not watch wrestling and forget it’s on. Don’t waste it.
Sadly, that’s a big reason the world’s oldest sport got dropped: ratings. Compared to other events, such as basketball, racing, swimming, and going on Twitter to complain about how boring the Olympics are, wrestling can’t hope to compete. It averaged a mere 23 million viewers per day, while the Olympics as a whole did over 31 million per day. One number is clearly less than the other, so you can certainly understand the logic.
Now true, wrestling still averages more viewers than the Pentathlon, which sticks around despite only bringing in 12.5 million average views. And yes, FILA (the international wrestling group) represents 177 nations worldwide, while the Pentathlon people only represent 108. But the Vice-President of the Pentathlon Committee is also on the Olympic Committee, something the head of wrestling is not. In short, wrestling’s great but it doesn’t have any friends in highly political places. Therefore, it is inferior.
Also, it just feels out of place in today’s world. What do all your favorite once-every-eight-years sports have in common, aside from interrupting The Price Is Right for two weeks? Drugs, that’s what! Pick your favorite athlete; chances are they’ve been busted for doping, are about to be busted, or are actively having anyone killed who might contribute to a future busting. Roughly 60% of all 2012 Olympians were on drugs, according to Victor Conte, and who’s a better authority on drugs than the former head of BALCO, who’s still working with the athletes and probably injected half of them himself?
What’s this have to do with wrestling? Simple; compared to other, more drug-friendly sports, wrestling is WAY behind. How often do you hear of a doping violation in wrestling? Almost never; a measly THREE wrestlers got busted for drugs this past Olympics, and one of them was for marijuana! Compared to the hardcore designer drugs that nice folks like Mr. Conte offer, losing your spot on the team because weed makes you feel good is decidedly bush-league.
And what of stripped medals? This happens a fair bit; if you’re discovered to have been doping during the Games, even 12 years later, you can lose your medal. But do you know how many wrestlers have lost their medals due to drugs, in history? FOUR. Compare that to 14 for weightlifting, nine for skiing, and nine for running, and you start to understand why the IOC is so disinterested in wrestling. It’s largely clean and proper, and thus way behind the times.
But now perhaps you’re wondering: what of all the stories of wrestlers on drugs? A young wrestler drops dead, and the culprit was usually drugs and more drugs. Well, those are professionals, and Olympic wrestlers are clearly amateurs in the more drugs-than-blood department. When The Rock undergoes an asinine four-year transformation like so:
He shows us all exactly why he is the PROFESSIONAL wrestling champion of the world. You amateurs who only show up once every eight years need to step it up, if you ever hope to make it to his level.
That whole “professional” thing might be the biggest issue, actually. Moreso than the barely-there ratings and lack of good drugs, the main reason that the IOC doesn’t care about amateur wrestling anymore is that they turn on the TV, see the professional product, and realize there’s no comparison. Olympic basketball not only LOOKS like the professional product, it oftentimes FEATURES the professional product. Lebron James joins the US team, and the world is intrigued. But are you ever going to see Hulk Hogan or The Undertaker go for the Gold in catch-as-catch-can? Of course not, and the IOC knows this.
The fans know it too, hence the meager ratings that are more suited for a cancelled wacky-Dad sitcom. When you hear “wrestling,” you think bright lights, loud music, amazing pyrotechnics, crazy costumes, atrocious acting, illogical storylines, and more baby oil than every nursery on the planet combined.
Do you get ANY of that when you turn on the Olympics? Hell no! They retort with regular room lighting, a quiet atmosphere, no fire at all, no storylines, no acting, and no baby oil because it’s considered “cheating.” Well, so are drugs, Mr. Wrestling Guy, and we’ve already established how not doing that has crippled your sport. Perhaps you need to rethink your morals, and alter them completely for the sake of your career.
And costumes? Forget it. Amateurs have no clue how to dress for a match. Two regular-sized guys in singlets, and earmuffs with only one muff? What kind of outfit is that? Meanwhile, we can flip over to the professionals, and see a bodybuilding rapper in jorts, going toe-to-toe with a seven-foot masked pyromaniac. Which sounds more like the real thing? Hint: it involves jorts.
One final aspect of professional wrestling, one these Olympic pretenders are clearly forgetting about: the moves. Amateurs are content to roll around on each other, applying the occasional arm or leg lock, and maybe a half-nelson. That’s great, except it gets old real fast. Now, compare that to the variety of moves and holds that the professionals rely on: top-rope moonsaults, chair shots, steel steps, throwing someone through a table, painful body stretches, FULL-nelsons, and sticking fingers down an opponent’s throat, among so many others. One dude wins matches by punching a guy. When’s the last time an Olympian thought of THAT?
So there you have it, wrestling: pump up the drugs, start dressing like you’re on the set of a bad movie, and maybe you can get your spot in the Olympics back. Until then, enjoy watching the Pentahlon at home, like everybody else.
Jason Iannone is a humorist and editor for hire. His Facebook is a rockin’ party, and his Twitter is the awesome afterparty. Tumblr is where he rides out the hangover, and archives anything he writes from anywhere.