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IOC could end up wrestling with a bunch of angry moms

Keitani Graham Micronesicompetes against Charles Edward Betts United States right during 84-kg Greco-Roman wrestling competiti2012 Summer Olympics Monday Aug. 6

Keitani Graham of Micronesia competes against Charles Edward Betts of the United States, right, during the 84-kg Greco-Roman wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:36AM



Don’t know about you, but I’m getting used to lame-brained moves by our esteemed leaders. We live in Illinois, after all.

This recent decision by the International Olympics Committee, however, is one for the ages. Seriously.

Wrestling, the time-honored sport that was part of the ancient Olympics back in 708 BC — and was there in Athens in 1896 when the so-called Modern Olympics began — has been jettisoned from the Games beginning in 2020.

Wrestling, which has more competitive athletes in more places than any other sport in the Olympics — and is the embodiment of what it is supposed to represent — has just been given the heave-ho. Yet we still get badminton.

Wrestling, the sport enjoyed by millions of young people — from elementary school to NCAA athletes — has been kicked off the roster. Still on the list: synchronized swimming.

If you’ve been paying attention to headlines lately, the shocking vote has all sorts of folks upset — from legendary athletes to high school coaches — all of whom are determined to knock some sense into the obviously deranged heads of the IOC.

What this committee of isolated aristocrats should fear most, though, is the wrath of wrestling moms.

Having been one for almost 20 years, I can tell you this: They are not a wimpy lot. For one thing, they’ve develop buns of steel after sitting on gymnasium bleachers for untold hours — beginning with early morning weigh-ins and going well into the evening. All to watch their kid perform for a few short but pulse-racing minutes.

It is not for the weak of heart.

Football is a tough sport, no doubt about it. But when mom sends her kid onto the gridiron under those Friday night lights, he’s got the protection of shoulder pads and at least 10 other teammates. Send your kid out on the wrestling mat, and he (or she) is on his own — with nothing but a jock strap between him and a chest-pounding He-man who wants nothing more than to grind your kid’s face into the rubber — and rip off his left arm while doing so.

Neither wrestler can dare to appear vulnerable. Nor can Mom, even if she knows there’s a good chance her child is going to get tossed around like a rag doll — then twisted like a human pretzel before getting thrown to the mat with such force, spit pops from his mouth and blood oozes from his nose.

Grossed out? Can’t read any further? Then you aren’t a wrestling mom.

Of course, these women don’t start out like bad-boned bike riders (although many are known to sport leather and some spectacular tattoos). For the first few matches, perhaps even an entire season, the newbies cover their eyes, pray silently to their God and desperately try talking their kid into quitting.

Then they toughen up, right along with their athlete. It happens gradually — after hours of gruelling practices and matches that test stamina, courage and the ability to stand the stench of really foul odors.

But the smell of blood, sweat and tears becomes one of the sweetest on Earth as moms begin to see their kids’ transformation. Not only does the sport of wrestling teach strength, agility and discipline, it offers lessons in sacrifice, pain and reward. And, no, the reward here is not some multimillion-dollar professional contract. It’s knowing you are giving your absolute all. And maybe, just maybe, that absolute all will be good enough to go down state for a shot at an IHSA championship medallion. Or — until this past week’s surprise news — a shot at the Olympics.

Wrestling moms love this sport. And to see it marginalized into extinction by the underhanded politics of the IOC will not go down well. “Let’s hit the IOC in the wallet if we can get sponsors nervous,” one mom wrote this week on Facebook, her anger evident. Wrote another, “Let the boycotts begin.”

Many experts suspect money is at the bottom of this disgraceful decision. But committee members be warned: Wrestling also teaches perseverance. Here’s hoping the IOC has finally met its match.



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