Wrestling Leaves the Rings

14 Feb

Five Olympic sports we should lose instead of wrestling

The secret revealed

Can you believe it?! The International Olympic Committee has axed wrestling from the games starting in 2020. This is shocking because I thought wrestling was one of the five original Olympic sports from ancient Greece, along with javelin, archery, philosophy, and thinking up new deities (such as Cleotius, god of heating vents and polyester fabric).

According to ESPN, the sport was rejected because of low TV numbers (23 million viewers on average) and having sold only 97% of its seating during the London games. But that seating percentage is better than two-thirds of NBA teams, and the viewership numbers are more than seven times the NHL’s Stanley Cup average viewership. The only other argument the IOC can have is that the sport isn’t popular enough—but I know a lot more ex-wrestlers than I do platform divers and speed walkers. In fact, I’ve never even met a speed walker.

So in the name of futile, after-the-fact protest, here are five sports the IOC could have dropped instead of wrestling:

Synchronized swimming

Now, I know that this is a hugely difficult event, and physically demanding beyond my understanding—but so is fleeing a pack of wild dogs across snowy Russian tundra. I don’t think difficulty alone should be a qualification; we should also consider marketability and sponsorship opportunities. Half the time we can’t even see synchronized swimmers (except for their feet), so the audience doesn’t know which sporting celebrity’s branded nose-plugs to buy.


I suppose this event is a devolution (or, as some would have it, “refinement”) of traditional Greek chariot racing. But I bet those ancient horsemen would be stunned at how tame and dapper it has become (“where are the flaming hoops?”). On a side note, “equestrian” is a great word if you’re playing hangman.


There is no question that sword fighting should be a popular spectator sport. If not a full-tilt, Aragorn-level battle then at least something off of Wii Resort. But I like my sporting events to last longer than 3 seconds.

Modern pentathlon

You might not even know what this is, and that alone should put it on the endangered list. It’s a combo event that features five challenges: fencing, equestrian, full-contact origami, fleeing a pack of wild dogs across a snowy tundra, and golf. The pentathlon almost got the boot already, but it turns out they have a massively influential team of lobbyists funded by an anonymous Asian paper empire and Tiger Woods. Who knew?

Judo and Taekwondo

They don’t need to eliminate these, just combine them. Call it, I dunno, “mixed martial arts” or something. Oh, wait….


5 Responses to “Wrestling Leaves the Rings”

  1. MLS February 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Yeah, but I actually took synchronized swimming lessons once as a child, so it can never be dropped from the Olympics. EVER. Because if I had to suffer through holding my breath under water for hours at a time while keeping my feet pointed to the sky in coordination with a bunch of other girls (who all swam much better than me) while I tried to hear the above-ground music well enough to count to eight, I don’t see why today’s youth shouldn’t have to, too, on the grounds that, “if you do well, maybe SOME day you’ll make it to the Olympics.”

    • Maximum Know-How February 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

      I dunno, that kind of sounds like torture to me (see references to Russian tundra above). But I guess would help advance one’s underwater counting skills, so you may have a point.

  2. cathycantu February 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    This is great! I too, am so bummed that they are giving wrestling the axe! Yes, I do know more wrestlers than participants in those other events. My son was a wrestler in high school. I don’t know of a sport that takes more athletic ability. So how ’bout they take out Dressage, which is Equestrian’s sissy cousin?

    • Maximum Know-How February 19, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      After writing this, I’ve learned about all sorts of Olympic-worthy derivations of sports. Dressage being one of them. Never even heard of it.


  1. New Olympic Sports for 2020 | Maximum Know-How - March 5, 2013

    […] namely the removal of wrestling from the Olympics. Although the Maximum Know-How team presented five other sports more worthy of the ax, apparently none of the 20 people who read that post were high-up enough in the IOC to influence a […]

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