How Does Wrestling Being Dropped from the Olympics Affect the Sport Locally?
Considered to be the second oldest competitive sport, behind track and field, it's been nearly three weeks since the International Olympic Committee announced that wrestling would be dropped from the Summer Games in 2020.
The vast majority of people involved in the world of wrestling were shocked when the International Olympic Committee announced that they were recommending that the sport be dropped from the Summer Games beginning in 2020.
Often referred to as one of the "Olympic sports," the time when wrestling seems to be spotlighted to the masses has always been every four years at the Summer Games, so questions could be raised about whether the popularity of the sport is still at a healthy level.
Natick High School wrestling coach Bob Anniballi, who said he was among those blindsided by the IOC's recommendation to eliminate wrestling from the Olympics, said that there aren't any questions about wrestling's popularity.
"Ironically, wrestling has been growing at the youth and high school level in Massachusetts and around the country," Anniballi said. "I'm, of course, beign optimistic. Only time will tell if it does get eliminated and if it ultimately has a negative impact on interest and participation. My feeling is that it won't help, but the sport is too imbedded throughout the U.S. for it to suffer."
While it sounds like the sport is safe at the local level, it can be troubling to fans of the sport to see it struggling at the international level, and there is always a possibility that that could trickle down.
"I think FILA, the governing body of international wrestling, has recently made some really bizarre rule changes to the sport that have made it very confusing for the average fan, or even someone like me who has been coaching for over 25 years," Anniballi said. "I think wrestlers from 20 years ago would have a tougher time following an Olympic match today with all the changes."
Anniballi said that high school and college wrestling are still great sports that are fueled by the wrestlers' love of the competition, rather than the professionalism factor that some other sports deal with.
"There are over 10,000 high school programs in the U.S.," he said. "A small percentage [of participants] will go on to wrestle at the college level. There are only seven weight classes at the international level (it was 10 for most of the modern Olympics until recently).
Tell us what you think. Were you surprised to hear that wrestling may be dropped from the Olympics, and do you think it will have any effect on local youth/high school wrestling programs?