Count me among those NOT watching Olympic golf
As a baseball nut, I won’t lie and say I wasn’t upset when my favorite sport was removed from the Olympics, especially since I love watching the Olympics, but I could understand the reasoning for it. The facts were astounding: There aren’t enough countries that really embrace the sport to make it an “international” competition, the world’s best players weren’t participating in the Games, and if the IOC decided that baseball wasn’t in strict compliance with Anti-Doping that’s fine.
Also, the sport they chose to put into baseball’s slot was rugby, a fast paced game that’s played all over the world. Okay, that’s fine, I’ll definitely watch me some Olympic rugby.
As a casual fan of the Olympics (I love to watch international competition and while I like the Winter games more, track is definitely fun to watch), I will say that I was furious when the IOC announced this year they were removing wrestling from the games next to allow for the next great sport to enter. And then I read that sport was golf and I flipped my lid.
When I say wrestling, I don’t mean that stuff on television where the Rock makes some miracle comeback and wins the title belt for the umpteenth time. That’s sports entertainment. This wrestling is the basis of almost all competition and dates back literally to ancient Greece, the same place the Olympics borrow their heritage from. It’s one person against another person in the ultimate test of physical strength.
Golf’s a fine sport I suppose, but the arguments for this are ridiculous. There’s a golf event almost every month and every one of those will be considered more important than the Olympic version of golf. While the sport has a much more profound fan-base and is widely more popular, the Olympics have never been about popularity, it’s about international amateur competition and giving these talented individuals a stage to showcase that talent.
Tiger Woods could go win the Olympic golf tournament tomorrow and that medal would sit in his trophy case next to a truckload of other awards, and while it might mean something special to him for a while to say he has one, it won’t mean nearly as much as the one sitting on Jake Varner’s mantle from winning it at the 96 kg weight class in 2012. You know why? Because that medal in his trophy case stands for being the best of the best for that time.
There are a lot of events that people can argue are overly popular when they shouldn’t be, but the Olympics and the spirit of competition mean so much more than what the games themselves show. These Games have always been about amateurism, which to some may sound like a “bad” word, but the definition of amateur is a person who does something because they love to do it. It never should have the connotation attached to it that they aren’t as good as a professional because many amateurs are very skilled at what they do.
In this case, almost every wrestler from high school on is an amateur. The demand for professional wrestling (again, actual wrestling, not sports entertainment) is so schematically low that it’s nearly impossible to make a career out of it besides coaching at younger levels. The Olympics were the chance for these stellar athletes to show their strength and talents for all the world to see, as well as to represent their nations proudly in a true competition of strength and skill.
The gold medal standard needs to be re-embraced and honored again, and I’m sorry, but golf is not the route to go to get that back.