Who Killed the Sport of Wrestling?

You might’ve seen or heard of Ara Abrahamian, the Armenian born Swedish wrestler who dropped his bronze medal on the mat to protest judging at Olympics wrestling.  Most people in the media blamed him for poor sportsmanship.  IOC officials took away his medal.  What you may not know is that, without a doubt, Abrahamian lost his chance at gold only because of bad calls. No one disputes that. He had also previously lost the world championship because of bad calls.  Can you see why an athlete may feel it is worthless to train and try in this sport?  

If you watched ANY of the wrestling matches at the Olympics this year, you saw a strange sport that nobody understands, and, more importantly, makes no sense even if you did understand it.  The whole purpose of the meet is to get it over with as quickly as possible.  Many great wrestlers were eliminated for no good reason.  It’s a shame. You can see all of the matches at http://www.nbcolympics.com/wrestling/resultsandsch… (thank you, NBC).  Most of the matches illustrate my point but, for example, watch this match between Cuba and Venezuela and tell me how did the cuban win this without ever initiating a single move?: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/player.html?asset…

There are too many ridiculous rules for scoring, draws, and judgment calls that it is futile to go into all of them.  In the old days, wrestlers went for 3, 3 minute rounds accumulating the score.  A take-down (khak) was one pint, exposing the back (baar-andaaz) was 2 points, a bridge (pol) was 3 points.  Then there was a pin (zarb-e fanni) which ended the match. Nobody scored outside the mat and if you got away from an opponents grasp, good for you.  You could follow that. More importantly, wrestlers got a fair chance to show who is better.

Now, it is a best of 3, 2 minute  “sets”, with referees awarding points for what seems to be arbitrary interpretations of aggression, chase, etc. with very few actual techniques.  If your opponent scores 1 point against you in the 1st two minutes, and you score 6 points against him in the second, guess what? you are tied! congratulations.  You’ll go to third “set”.  If that’s not enough, they draw balls from a bag to see which player starts with the other wrestler’s LEG in his grasp! An exciting tied match usually ends in this humorous of all poses with athletes forced to relinquish their LEG into the other wrestler’s arms in a set play decided by a ball drawn from a bag!   

If you think these lotteries and arbitrary scores are bad, you don’t even know how bad the draws are decided.  For example, ONLY wrestlers who have LOST to one of the finalists for gold/silver get to wrestle for Bronze! Seriousely.  If you’re  lucky enough to have lost to the silver medalist, you may get to go for bronze!

Suffice to say NO country should train their young athletes for 4 years to go to such an arbitrary contest which can see their hard work and dreams die in seconds based on no athletic process.  

Wrestling is a major, classic sport in the Olympics in a class with track & field and swimming. However, it is mostly popular with poorer people of poorer countries. So, it is being treated like the bastard child of the Olympics, while rich people’s sports like yachting, beach volleyball, synchronized swimming, la cross, etc. flourish.   While an athlete in swimming or track & field can come in FOURTH in 3 separate heats and still qualify for a chance at gold, a wrestler can be out in a split second because of a bad lottery, bad judgment call, or something even worse. And in other sports, you know what you need to do to win: swim or run faster, or jump higher, and you win.  Not in wrestling. 

Let’s just not have any wrestling in olympics anymore.  This is embarrassing. 

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