Ice fishing wants in. Wrestling is being phased out. Softball was eliminated four years ago. Golf is in for 2016. Wakeboarding and climbing are possible contenders for 2020. The reason for these and other Olympic additions and subtractions comes down to viewers. The IOC believes that in order to keep and attract more viewers they have to stay current by adding “cooler” sports. However, the IOC’s decision to eliminate wrestling and its questioning whether other sports deserve to participate, demonstrates the organization’s lack of consideration for the tradition and history of the Games. Tradition and history are at the core of the Games. Without them, there is nothing.
Perhaps the IOC and its vision is not the only reason for change. Sports are lobbying to be admitted to future Olympics and when they lobby, the IOC sees another opportunity to mix things up and get more viewers. For sports that want entry, why? Do they see obtaining a place in the Olympics as recognition that the sport exists? Are there not honors and prestige outside of the Games? Will the Iditarod not be prestigious without an Olympic medal at the end? Eventually will the Olympics just be an X Games with golf? This is coming from someone who truly believes in and loves the Olympics. I am all for the IOC considering sports that are owed their due, but not when it comes at such a high price to other sports.
So what happens from here? I have no answers, but I hope that the IOC considers tradition over modernity. Maybe the IOC should consider marketing classicism as the ultimate Olympic brand. They have the chance to reinvigorate what already exists through how they use the media. A campaign like this would attract younger athletes and viewers to sports like wrestling. For sports that cannot get in, let us give them their due on national television, in The Times, and by encouraging young athletes to pursue these sports Olympic medal or not. As a society, we must recognize that just because a sport is not in the Olympics, does not mean that it is less of a sport. Being the best is the best whether there is a an Olympic medal or a World medal on the line.
The truth is that not every sport can be in the Olympics and priority must be given to those already in the Games. The IOC needs to realize this or the essence of the Olympics will be lost. I hope they get the message.