- Jim Caple, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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I am still wrestling with the IOC's shocking and inexplicable decision to drop wrestling from the Summer Olympics while preserving the modern pentathlon (which was expected to get the boot). Wrestling is a sport that is popular worldwide. It goes all the way back to the ancient Games and is even mentioned in the book of Genesis (Jacob wrestles all night with the angel of the Lord).
The modern pentathlon, meanwhile, consists of five events that most people could not name even if Regis gave them a lifeline and a smartphone.
Dropping an inexpensive, global sport that has always been in the Olympics is more of an inexcusable travesty than the London mascots. Here are five obscure/ridiculous sports the IOC should drop instead to get wrestling back on the Olympic roster:
Equestrian: This is an elite sport that requires the backing of such enormous private wealth that I don't think they can afford it even at "Downton Abbey." Despite the presence of Bruce Springsteen's daughter, this is truly the sport of kings. And queens (Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips competed in London and won a silver medal). Maybe equestrian might hold some appeal to the 99 percenters if we could bet a $2 trifecta on the medal winners, but, until then, I would much rather see the likes of Rulon Gardner and Alexander Karelin battling it out on the mats.
Synchronized swimming: Look, I respect synchronized swimmers. I've even tried the sport. It's hard. It's athletic. But I'm sorry, no one can take this sport seriously after this "Saturday Night Live" parody. It has been 25 years since that spoof aired and it's still the first thing people think of when they hear the words "synchronized swimming."
Trampoline: I've covered 10 Olympics on four continents. I've written on just about every medal event there is. And this is still easily the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen at the Games, with the possible exception of letting George Michael sing two songs at the 2012 London closing ceremonies. When I saw trampoline for the first time, I kept expecting to see an angry father rush in and yell at the kids to stop jumping up and down or they'll break the mattress. Which, frankly, would have improved this event considerably.
Pingpong: Yeah, I know it's called table tennis. But anything you play in your parents' basement can hardly be considered a sport more worthy of the Olympics than wrestling.
Modern pentathlon: The only reason this event exists is that Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin created it. For the record, the events in the modern pentathlon are laser-pistol shooting, fencing, show-jumping, a 3-kilometer cross country run and a 200-meter swim. In other words, it combines arcade games, very expensive horse riding, a run too short to adequately test endurance and a swimming event that does not include Michael Phelps. Not only does no one want to watch this, but no one wants to compete in it, either. I mean, have you ever met a modern pentathlete? Have you ever gone to a modern pentathlon? Does your high school or college offer modern pentathlon? Of course not. Which is why the modern pentathlon should be dropped and wrestling reinstated.
This whole matter could be solved to everyone's satisfaction by simply replacing the modern pentathlon with the ancient pentathlon that was in the original Olympics B.C. That's because the ancient pentathlon consisted of the long jump, javelin, discus, a foot race and, yes, wrestling.