BALDWIN: Reflections From Buenos Aires -- Welcoming Wrestling Back to the OlympicsApollo, Poseidon, Zeus... all the Gods are smiling down from the heavens as a result of the IOC's decision to reinstate wrestling back into the Olympic Games.
After nearly 7 months in exile (208 days to be exact), the oldest and greatest sport known to man has completed its triumphant return.
At the end of this long and arduous process we might want to look back and ask... "How the hell did we get here in the first place?"
Why would the IOC want to eliminate the oldest and greatest sports known to man? A sport with rich tradition and history. A sport that has athletes competing in hundreds of countries on every continent. A sport that is one of the last bastions of true amateur athleticism. A sport that thrives in underprivileged and poor communities around the globe. A sport that is not just part of the Olympic family but is the charter member... its founder.
Was it hubris, dysfunction, politics, neglect? The answer is... all of the above. I am certain that following the IOC executive board's decision last February to eliminate wrestling from the Games, the panic immediately began to set in. The full weight of that decision began to bear down on them as the tide of international outrage began to swell. Wrestlers protested, the public protested, governments protested, many of the voting members of the General Assembly of the IOC protested, athletes threatened to return medals, athletes went on hunger strikes. It was a level 10 PR disaster for the IOC. They were not prepared for the avalanche of criticism that was leveled against them, the passion of the public's reaction, and wrestling's international resolve to remain in the Games. I am sure if they could do it all over again they would not make the same mistake.
The blowback on the streets and the internet was powerful and poetic. I had somebody stop and say... "Hey, Mr. Baldwin... thanks for all you're doing for wrestling. I tell ya... it's crazy what the IOC did, huh? I mean c'mon Mr. Baldwin... the Olympics without wrestling? It's like the 4th of July without fireworks... no?"
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