Wrestling is an amateur sport, popular in high school, college and the Olympics, which consists of opponents of similar weight attempting to obtain control of each other and pinning the opposition to the ground.
This extremely athletic sport is not to be confused with "professional wrestling," which is staged entertainment.
Traditionally, men have wrestled since the time of ancient Greece. When women participate in it, wrestling is a joke sport. However, with the proportionality test in the Department of Education regulations implementing Title IX, schools have a financial incentive to offer the sport to women, and it has been included in the Olympics and World Games since 2002. From 1994 to 2001, the number of female students who wrestle in high school has grown from 804 to over 7000. As of 2001, 22 colleges now sponsor varsity wrestling programs. Because the NCAA and NAIA do not sanction wrestling for women and will not conduct national championships, these schools have formed a separate national governing body, the Women's College Wrestling Association. The WCWA sponsors competition using the same rules as Olympic freestyle wrestling and uses weight classes of: 101 lbs, 109 lbs, 116 lbs, 123 lbs, 130lbs, 136 lbs, 143 lbs, 155 lbs, 170 lbs, and 191 lbs. When 20 college members of the NCAA send commitment letters proposing to sponsor varsity women's wrestling teams, wrestling can become an NCAA emerging sport. However, the 22 members of WCWA are divided between the NCAA and the NAIA, so the sport does not qualify as an emerging sport in either organization. The continued spread of women's wrestling is hampered by the economic downturn which results in reduced athletic budgets and in a number of colleges dropping their intercollegiate wrestling programs for men.
Wrestling in the Olympics
The first recorded Olympic wrestling match occurred in the Olympics in 708 BC. When the modern Olympics were revived, wrestling was included in the 1896 games. The sport was not a part of the 1900 games, but has been a part of the Summer Olympic program ever since. Starting with the 2004 games, women have participated in freestyle wrestling. At the 2012 London Olympics, 344 athletes from 71 countries competing in 11 medal wrestling events.
Because of growing costs, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been under pressure to reduce the number of events and the number of athletes in each summer game. The IOC has adopted a system where "core sports" would continue indefinitely in future Olympics, but "non-core" sports would be selected for inclusion on an Olympic game-by-game basis. Currently, wrestling is one of the 26 core sports. However, following the London Olympics, the IOC's Executive Committee conducted a study of the 26 core sports in terms of their success at the London Olympics as well as world-wide grassroots support. The study sought to trim one core sport so that starting with the 2020 Olympics, only 25 core sports would continue to make room for one non-core sport. On February 12, 2013, the IOC Executive Board voted to recommend that wrestling be dropped as a core sport. If approved by the full IOC, wrestling with have to compete with seven other non-core sports - baseball/softball, squash, karate, sport climbing, wakeboarding, wushu and roller sports - for a place in the 2020 Games.
The international federation that governs wrestling (FILA) responded with a statement the same day:
FILA was greatly astonished by today's recommendation of the IOC Executive Board not to maintain wrestling among the 25 core sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. FILA will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC Executive Board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games.
On February 15, FILA held an emergency meeting and its President, Mr. Raphaël Martinetti, asked for a vote of confidence. When only 50% of his Board voted to support him, he resigned as FILA President. Although wrestlers will be able to continue to compete in the World Games, United States wrestlers have expressed grave disappointment at the possibility that they could be excluded from future Olympics. Although wrestling includes both men and women in the Olympic Programme, radical feminists are concerned that it will be replaced by another sport that includes both genders. Instead, they advocate for the inclusion of netball, a women-only variation of basketball that was invented in Victorian England in response to basketball being too unladylike.
- Women's Wrestling Facts and Resources. nwcaonline.com. Retrieved on February 18, 2013.
- History of Wrestling. Retrieved on February 18, 2013.
- IOC Decision on Wrestling Hurts Olympic Brand. Retrieved on February 18, 2013.
- Wrestling to be dropped from 2020 Olympic Games. Retrieved on February 18, 2013.
- Recommendation of IOC Executive Board. Retrieved on February 17, 2013.
- Sheinin, Dave. "Wrestling prodigy's Olympic dream in jeopardy", Washington Post, February 15, 2012, p. A1.