When the 25 Core Sports were announced for the 2020 Olympics, there was a glaring omission: wrestling. The IOC had dropped one of the original Olympic sports while deciding to keep “sports” like table tennis (that’s right – ping-pong) and badminton. They cite decreased popularity and television ratings among the deciding factors.
Now, who in their right mind would want to piss off a world of wrestlers? Turns out, though, that wrestlers aren’t the only people up-in-arms about the decision. After I signed the petition on change.org (the link is below so you can sign it too), I started reading the messages posted there. There are plenty of non-wrestlers voicing their support of a sport that some claim is dying out.
Perhaps it is not as popular as it once was, but many programs that were on their way out are being saved.
That’s right. Title IX is saving a traditionally male-dominated sport. As the mother of a female wrestler, I can’t say I’m shocked. Our novice wrestling team boasts five girls, every one of them tough and dedicated. We are more surprised when we don’t spot girls on other teams. The tournament this past weekend had fewer girls than any other, and I still counted at least five females competing.
I must admit, I am often reminded of those cheesy moments in movies when the motorcyclist removes a helmet to reveal long flowing locks. This is what happens when my Bear is finished with matches for the day and shakes her long blonde hair out from under her skull cap. (That is often the only way to pick out the girls; they all wear them to protect themselves from hair pulling.) But watching her wrestle is anything but cheesy. I lost my voice cheering for her this weekend. She inspires me with her grit and determination, her unwillingness to give in or quit the fight. More than one boy has gotten pinned by our princess this season; more than one has gotten angry when unable to pin her. She would say it’s because girls rule while boys drool.
I say it’s because she’s found her sport.
Determined is a great description. Bull-headed works too. She delights in showing her strength and she enjoys sports that require it. Until wrestling, gymnastics was her sport of choice. The only thing it lacked was the one-on-one contest. Now she has dreams of collegiate wrestling and of that Olympian gold. She has declared she would like to continue wrestling in the off-season and we are fortunate enough to be able to provide her with the opportunity.
And despite her passion for the sport and her success during this, her first season, we are often questioned about our support.
“How long will you allow her to wrestle?”
As long as she wants to. I see no valid reason for her to quit unless she decides she wants to. I allow my children to choose their outfits, their hairstyles, their hobbies. Why would I inhibit a sport, let alone one that increases her confidence, her physical and mental strength, and her self discipline?
“Yeah, but how far can she really go with it?”
Just as far as my son could, if he had her desire. Girls are wrestling – and winning – at all levels. Coaches that discriminated in the past are learning that not only can girls compete, they can win. And thanks to their interest, a sport that was losing steam is seeing new life. Girls wrestle in youth programs, in high school, in college, and (until 2020) in the Olympics. How much further must she be able to go in order to make this a worthwhile use of her time?
And let’s put all that aside for a moment. Let’s even put aside the female perspective. Let’s focus instead on what both of our wrestlers have learned from this sport.
It takes guts just to step onto the mat. They are there alone, no teammates. Everything they do from that moment forward is their decision, their will. They depend on their strength, their focus, their determination. When they lose, it is with a great struggle. My kids have learned to keep fighting, even when it may seem hopeless. They have learned that if they want to get better, they must work. Some people are stronger than they seem and girls are not necessarily weaker than boys. They are more independent, more confident, and better suited to return to team sports when the seasons change.
The slogans are all true.
Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.
Pain is temporary; pride is forever.
The only thing tougher than a wrestler is his/her mom…because once you’ve watched your children wrestle, everything else in life is easy.
This is more than a sport. And it needs to remain a part of the Olympics, if only because, after being told of the US women bringing home bronze and silver medals, my daughter stated confidently, “I’ll bring home the gold.”
For more information on women in wrestling and the future of the sport, read this articles:
AND SIGN THIS PETITION! THEN PASS IT ON AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO SIGN!