Until recently, we didn’t know much about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) other than they’re the people everybody complains to about the Chinese gymnastics team. That all changed, however, when the IOC announced that they were cutting wrestling from the competition in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Brazil. Now we know another thing about the IOC: They have their heads burrowed rather far up their own asses.
To clarify, we’re not wrestling junkies. We just have class. Wrestling is as Olympian as undetectable steroids. It’s the oldest human sport, for Pete’s sake. How did they possibly figure the Olympics would be better without it? Especially when there are other ‘sports’ firmly slotted in the Olympic tradition that deserve to be cut more than wrestling?
In the modern era, there’s always been a few sports involved in the Olympics that seemingly have no business being there. Which sport that is tends to vary according to your nationality, class, race, and opinion of just what a sport is. For ourselves, we’ve thought of six sports that the IOC should cut instead of wrestling.
1. Synchronized Swimming
Look, we’re not ignorant. We acknowledge that synchronized swimming actually really does require a lot of hard work, athleticism, and dedication. But so does ballet. And so does Riverdance. And so does (for the most part) WWE. The only fundamental difference between those three disciplines and synchronized swimming is that the latter takes place underwater. Hard work, athleticism, and dedication alone aren’t proof of an activity’s integrity as a ‘sport’.
What does qualify as proof is that its outcome between its competitors isn’t largely determined by the official judging criterion known as ‘artistic impression’. This is where synchronized swimming fails miserably. Because synchronized swimming is performance art. Performance art that requires music, and makeup that must be uniformly applied or points get deducted, and a storyline theme that either is or isn’t convincingly portrayed based on the arbitrary opinion of what a judge thinks is ‘artistic’.
As the great Ron Swanson once said about art, ‘anything is anything’. Synchronized swimming has no place in the Summer Games because it’s no more quantifiable than a fireworks display.
Would you give your neighbor a gold medal and refer to him as an “athlete” if he finally succeeded in training his dog to stop shitting in your yard and play fetch instead? Of course you wouldn’t. That’s ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as Superman paralyzing himself trying to be an equestrian, but still pretty ridiculous. If anything, the dog deserves the medal, right?
That might sound like a weird hypothetical, but that’s pretty much what Equestrianism boils down to—who can train an animal (horse) the best. One thing we can at least all agree on is that sports are about testing the athletic potential of HUMANS. Which HUMAN can run faster. Which HUMAN can jump higher. Which HUMAN can put the ball in the hole the most times before the buzzer sounds. Stuff like that.
But horseracing is considered a sport! True dat. And deservedly so. The crazy shit jockeys do to maintain weight is enough in our book to qualify as a test of athletic potential. If the quota is 1 on animal-based sports allowed in the Olympics, we’re utterly confused on how equestrian beat out horseracing.
No, not that hockey. The other one—the one that looks like a group of rednecks couldn’t find an ice rink and said ah fuckit’. Try this as a rule of thumb: if the average person didn’t even know it was an Olympic sport to begin with, it probably shouldn’t be an Olympic sport. Technically, it’s the oldest known sport involving a ball and a stick, with records of it being played as far back as 2000 BC. And we’re pretty sure the main reason they decided to try convert it to ice was that it started to resemble too closely a band of chimps trying to play croquet.
There’s no shame in waking up one day and being obsolete. Evolution happens. Hockey found ice just like Brad found Angelina. We don’t still ride horses to work just because our ancestors did it.
The movements and concepts of almost every sport are derived from some kind of analogous survival skill we perfected as cavemen. In football, a linebacker chases down a running back, and the running back eludes the same linebacker the same way we’d run down a deer and run away from a tiger a hundred thousand years ago in a field somewhere.
But archery is unique, in that you don’t have to do a double-take to trace its evolutionary skill. Shooting an arrow with a bow is obviously derived from hunting, a form of hunting that was all the rage until gunpowder was invented. This means that archery would be great fun to watch if only we all lived in medieval England.
Archery could also do itself a huge favor by at least trying to look cool. It’s not hard to make shooting a bow and arrow look badass. The Hunger Games did it. The Lord of the Rings did it. Just imagine the shock and disappointment of little Timmy as he turns on Olympic archery, having just walked out of a movie theater and seen Katniss take down some District 2 chump with her bow, only to see this:
Fencing likes to amp up its own mythology by claiming that it’s the ‘sport of swordplay’. Well…why don’t they just call it swordplay then? Because we like to think real swordplay involves parrying, pirouetting, style contrasts, mortal danger, improvised settings, blades that make an audible CLING! sound as well as spark upon contact, and some kind of dragon magic.
And fencing doesn’t really have any of that. Instead of swords, they use foils, which are thin, nimble, blunted strips of metal that bend like bamboo and pose no danger to a single person on Earth above the age of 12. Of course, that doesn’t stop the contestants from padding themselves up like they’re about to be shot out of a cannon, but whatever. Safety first.
There’s no real jockeying for position or extended sequencing, either, because their playing field is a rectangular strip of floor that only allows for the same series of sideways thrusts over and over again. But since all you have to do is touch the other person with your blade to score, it doesn’t really matter. So what you get instead of swordplay is a modified version of one-on-one tag, with foreign objects.
This one is simple. The problem with sailing—and the primary reason it’s listed here— isn’t that its philosophical merits as a true sport are flawed so much as it’s just plain boring as hell to watch. More boring than wrestling. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. And, honestly, is it really that big of an honor to win a medal in sailing? How many sailors are there, exactly? Does every yacht club just send their best warrior, like the All Valley Karate Tournament?
On a more serious note, one might notice that all the activities listed here have something in common: they’re all by-and-large ‘sports’ of privilege that are exclusive to first-world countries. Wrestling is not, and that’s the real tragedy of it being cut. It’s transcendent—neither bound by economics, culture, or politics. Anybody can compete. Anybody can win. That’s what the Olympics are supposed to be about. If the IOC doesn’t mind contradicting its own existence, we don’t mind calling it a total joke.
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