By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
What was the International Olympic Committee thinking when it decided to take wrestling out of the 2020 Olympic Games?
Certainly, it wasn’t what the Olympics were intended to be.
The Olympics were supposed to be for amateurs when the games resumed in 1894 (which included wrestling).
No other athlete may represent the spirit of the Olympics more than a wrestler.
He is a true amateur. There are no professional avenues except on the stage of WWE, which will never be mistaken for the Olympics.
Even if he (or she now) wins a gold medal, there will be no victory tour like the U.S. gymnastics team made.
There will be no commerical endorsements like swimmer Michael Phelps had — although ex-Oklahoma State wrestling star Kenny Monday did own a Subway sandwich shop while he trained for his Olympic gold medal.
In all likelihood, there are no Nike endorsements like the track athletes have.
And this is just for the sports where the ultimate achievement is an Olympic gold medal.
One has to wonder why golf will be in the Olympics.
Do you think Tiger Woods would trade his green Masters jacket for a gold medal?
Aren’t the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA — the four majors — supposed to determine the world’s best golfers?
Don’t think you will see any of those guys in the Olympic village getting to know their fellow Olympians.
If you want to be patriotic, doesn’t the Ryder Cup serve for golf what the Olympics serve for other sports?
Ditto for tennis. Sure an Olympic gold is something to savor for the Williams sisters or a Steffi Graf or an Andy Murray (especially since he did it in his native England), but then what is Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open for? If you want to get into patriotism, play the Davis Cup or Federation Cup. Again, that’s really playing for America (or your country).
Then there’s hockey (a Winter Olympics sport). The NHL is a United Nations today with players from all over the world chasing the Stanley Cup.
Think any of them would trade the Stanley Cup for the gold meda? This isn’t 1980 anymore, where there was a true United States amateur team. Now it’s just a number of all-star teams thrown together for two or three weeks.
The ultimate is basketball.
Again, don’t question the sincerity of LeBron James or Kobe Bryant when they say how much a gold medal meant to them. However, LeBron wasn’t acknowledged as a winner until his Miami Heat won the NBA championship.
Wrestling will survive this.
Most kids dream of state championships and scholarships instead of Olympic gold medals, but it’s still nice to have the dream.
But kids might not get the chance some Enid wrestlers did this summer when they got to see future bronze medalist Coleman Scott train at OSU. EHS coach Jory Dick talked about how much of an inspiration Scott was to his wrestlers and how helpful he was.
OSU coach John Smith will always have the impact of being a two-time gold medalist. As a graduate of John Marshall High School, I always took pride in ex-Bear Wayne Wells winning a gold medal in 1972.
No other Olympic sport has brought as much glory to Oklahoma than wrestling, something both Cowboys and Sooners can take pride in. The real loser is amateur athletics.
Campbell is News & Eagle sports writer.