Friday, May 17, 2013

Squash Wrestles With the Past

The recent decision by the IOC to remove wrestling from the Olympic games could spell trouble for squash. 

The decision-making at the IOC is famously obtuse. (For a good peek behind the Olympic curtain, check out Brett Erasmus' blog on the subject, here.) We know they have made some very strange decisions through the years, like allowing into the games some very odd and made-up sports, such as synchronized diving, and like refusing entree for some sports that clearly deserve their ticket into the games, like squash.

Most recently we have been treated to the mystifying decision to remove wrestling from the games, which is perfectly ludicrous. Wrestling is a core sport of the Olympics, it is foundational, it is an original Olympic game, it is iconic and now, at least temporarily, it has been shunned. 

Why? Only God knows, but I smell the acrid stench of politics at work. Internal politics, the kind where one fat-cat weasel slaps the back of another during a closed meeting at some posh resort, and asks, Hey, can you do me a favor? 

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

That wrestling was kicked out means that some other sport was left in. Look to the weaker sports in the Olympics to find your culprit, the sport that made the backroom deal. Some sports have been mentioned, but lacking any proof I will venture no public guesses.

But for squash lovers I see trouble. Wrestling, now relegated to the same uncomfortable spot where squash, karate, and a handful of other supplicant sports wait in exile, has begun to work a mighty, far-flung PR effort to get the sport readmitted. The sport has declared it is willing to make all necessary tweaks to their program to set aright some of the problems mentioned by the IOC. The sport is important in the US and very big in Russia, Iran, and several of the "Stan" countries, and is truly international (unlike synchro diving!), so the PR effort carries tremendous clout. If wrestling makes some quick changes it may well be very difficult to stop. 

Wouldn't it be horrible for squash to lose out for a third time because the IOC decided to readmit a sport it had just cast out!

We in squash feel like our chances should be good. Our own PR effort has been excellent, and we have professionals managing the campaign. I definitely still feel squash has a shot, but that shot would be much much better if the IOC hadn't decided to expel wrestling. The casting out of wrestling by the IOC may well have been a very dark day indeed for the sport of squash. I hope I'm wrong.



  1. What does the mighty squashist (AKA little Jimmy) think about the odds recently posted regard squash as the runner up to wrestling?

  2. Alas, Mr. Anonymous, I think those odds are correct. I think we all have to pray that wrestling gets dissed a second time by the IOC.


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