David: Gary, how the heck are you?
Gary: Atrocious. I’m writing this column with you on a God-forlorn swim news website, aren’t I?
David (pouring out a tall pour of tequila): Fascinating. Tell me more.
Gary: In slashing, hewing, cleaving, word and deed, I was the foremost knight of chivalry. Cervantes saw… Sorry, what were you saying? I was distracted by your dewy pallor. How’s Seattle in February?
David (cutting up a lime): Seattle in February is a lot like the third 200 in a set of 5x200s best average. You’re over the hill, but you’re still in Seattle.
Gary (ignoring David and looking in a mirror): I think I’m going to legally change my name to Punky Rooster…
(Glancing over shoulder) Or do you think I should go with the more formal Punky Rooster Coqburn the Thurd?
David (sprinkling some sea salt on the back of his thumb): Gary, as my gift to you today, I’m not even going to point out your idiocy. Instead, I’m going to let you set up an elaborate, mediocre joke before we delve into conversation. Life’s too short to fight you.
Gary: Okay. What’s your sign?
David (tequila grimacing): Aries Gary, Aries. Why?
Gary: No way! A couple weeks ago I read an article in the Science Journal that there was a conclusive, multi-center clinical trial that determined Aries folks are more gullible than any other sign.
David (pouring another mug): Really?
Gary: No, not really Dave. You’re gullible.
David (licking back of thumb): But you digress. Now that the dust has settled, both over that bomb-of-a-joke and the recent circumcision of wrestling from the Olympics, let’s talk singlets. What are your thoughts?
Gary: Wrest In Peace, Restling.
David (aloof while sucking a lime wedge): How insensitive.
Gary: Wrestling being cut from the Olympic Games is the result of a colossal failure to properly market the sport and its athletes. Who’s responsibility is that? The world of sports is highly competitive on the business side. Sports that properly market themselves and appeal to a broad demographic survive and thrive. Sports that fail to do so lose.
It should make us proud and appreciative of the job that USA Swimming, and marketing aces like Matt Farrell and Mike Unger, have done to promote and grow our sport.
It’s not that wrestling isn’t without merit. Personally, I love strapping on tights and hugging other men into submission. It’s supposedly good for your prostate. All I’m saying is that wrestling, despite a history intertwined with the Olympic Games, and the marketing catapult offered every four years, failed to market itself. And that’s a failure of the sports governing body.
If the IOC can trim the fat of sports that aren’t carrying their weight, it results in more funding for sports that are doing it right, like USA Swimming. Look at what we did with Olympic Trials with the construction of Myrtha Pools in huge venues. And then filling those venues full of screaming fans! And getting people who don’t swim to care about swimming! It’s impressive.
Wrestling? Not so much.
David (quickly putting away the booze and tying his robe): Wait, are you engaging an issue? Unexpected! I’m a little unprepared…but uh…
(psyching self up/doing Nic Cage impersonation): Okay, let’s ride! You, Gary, enjoy business.
Gary: What you refer to as business I call work. Go on.
David: And, based on all your fake jobs, it seems like you’re good at that scam. Not all of us share that passion though. In fact, I personally think you’re somewhere between Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney and Blake. I bring this up, first, to belittle you, and, second, to point out that all you see in the world is transactions and transaction-opportunities. Many of us don’t.
Gary: Supply and demand. Or in wrestling’s case, lack of demand.
David: What I want, Gary, is for you to stretch back to a time of transformers, not transactions, and to think of the children, Gary, the children. What are young wrestlers thinking right now? In fact, to take Adam Smith’s hands off of your eyes, I’m gonna try to appeal to your inner kid, and take you back to a time where everything was simple. And rhymed:
Tell me dear Gary, of your theory of wrestling,
Because to me what you espouse, seems quite oppressing,
I understand, of course, the biggest problem of all,
What, with you being born with a heart two sizes too small,*
But it seems to little ‘ole Dave,
That even you would not be so depraved,
“Not my fault that wrestling is filled with incompetents,” you scream,
But what about A.C. Slater, and the other kids who dream?
Should they lose their sport, their history, their legacy, should this cut be fatal?
Simply because some higher-up didn’t know marketing from a half-nelson, or cradle?
Of course, I know you you’ll ignore my appeal to your humanity,
So I’ll move on to one thing that still confuses me,
A while back, “Down with the NCAA” you said,
“Education for athletes? Not my problem, I dread,”
But how will a sport defend itself against the cuts that are raining,
When no one in the sport has the education or training,
Your free market has already produced a loser and wrestling is his name,
And it started with the lack of education your idea proclaimed,
The cuts led to a sport without college to boot,
And ended with athletes without an Olympic sport to root.
Gary (seething sarcasm): Poetry. Cute. You’re better at poetry than you are at Counter Points, but that’s not saying much. Oh, taxpayers should pay for wrestling. It’s so simple! Why didn’t I think of that? Here’s some rhyming for you: Wrestling is great for your prostate, Dave’s poetry, second rate. Let’s have Medicaid cover wrestling too while we’re at it.
Ohhh. Oh. Boo hoo, wrestling didn’t get prime time coverage! NBC didn’t hand over wrestling prime time slots like daddy handed off the keys to the car when I turned sixteen. Life is so unfair! It’s those damn free marketers, trying to take away my God given entitlements, like wrestling and prime time TV slots!
Injustice! Wrestlers weren’t trained to be marketers, that’s the problem! Football players should be taxed to pay for wrestlers, and their marketing education! And swimmers too. Swimmers should be taxed to pay for wrestlers too. We should all pay for wrestlers and their marketing degrees. Who cares that the sport isn’t interesting enough for 99% of the public to ever watch, or care? Who cares that wrestling could have hired a competent marketing firm – someone our educational system didn’t fail? Who cares?!
(Pulling back from delusion) Does it hurt when they perform a lobotomy?
David: Man who talk meanly / Never had mom who loved him / Pity, not fear him
Gary (really confused at what happened): What the… Did? Did you just haiku me?!!! David, I warned you once before, don’t you EVER haiku me!
David: I just put a flower in your mouth of hate. Disarming I know.
Gary (nostrils flaring): Wait, no more poetic responses?
David: Well, I had the “disarming” pun in there?
Gary: No sensical responses?
David: Nope, nothing here. I just had a couple cute ways to try and avoid an actual argument. That said, I’m upset that wrestling was cut because of the same reasons as most swimmers: I liked the Olympics growing up; I liked watching wrestling on the Olympics; I empathize with the plight of wrestling. So, I think that it’s somewhat arbitrary that swimming has gained in popularity and wrestling hasn’t. And, I think it’s bull*&@^ you’re totally okay with marketing failure dictating a sport’s demise.
Gary: Popularity or viewership dictating a sport’s demise? Yes. Or if you’re not a raving communist, democracy dictating a sport’s demise. And by the way, the Olympics will continue without the sport of wrestling.
The IOC needs to provide more funding to the athletes if we’re going to be able to successfully move away from the broken NCAA dole system in place. By trimming the fat and cutting sports that provide little to no return to the Olympic movement (pentathlon and quite a few other sports should go too) the IOC can better fund sports like swimming, and the athletes, that contribute to the growth of the Olympic movement. That funding would support club team development. USA Swimming is rewarded for their efforts of contribution.
David: That’s the problem, Gary. Once again you’ve reduced the world to a series of winner-take-all business transactions. Your argument is: those who make more money are winners, and the winners should make more money. But, winning is only measured in dollars, which leads to nothing having value in the world unless people pay money for it. And, where does this view end? I’ll tell you, it ends with you on your death bed saying “I wish…(cough, gurgle, spittle, poop) I would’ve…made-more-MONEY! (cackling laugh…death).”
The problem I’m getting at is that there’s lots of great things in the world that people don’t or can’t or shouldn’t have to pay money for. Different sports connect with different kids. We can’t all be football players, soccer players (who live in Europe), basketball players, or swimmers/runners that are good at short sprints (or really, really, really ridiculously good at long events…like way better than anyone ever). We should allow and encourage kids to find their passion.
And, yes, with more new sports being added to the Olympics, some sports will lose out. But, I think it’s worth lamenting that loss a little bit, because some kids who worked really hard, had a lot of talent, and – yes – dreams will no longer be able to show off their gift to the world. So, in sum, humility is my point Gary. Even if you don’t feel bad, respect the fallen.
Gary: Okay, I’m humile. Your last point I can understand. But understand that if the herd isn’t thinned of weak and old, the whole pack dies. This truism predates the concept of money by ages. So, it’s not about money, it’s about survival. It seems to me you’d rather see the entire Olympic movement go down with the lame. I’m a survivor.
David: Wait, I know what you’re doing; you’re building up to a dramatic finish that will make all the readers side with you…how come you you always get the conclusion?
Gary: Because I’m Punky Rooster Coqburn the Thurd, [expletive removed]!!! Now, don’t interrupt me.
David (under his breath): Last word addict.
Gary (looking sternly at David, then moving on): I can still love the Olympics without wrestling. I can still cheer “our” athletes. The athletic integrity of swimming or track and field is not compromised by the elimination of wrestling. Just the opposite, in fact! Sports with a much smaller participant base compromise the integrity of more competitive sports, and the Olympic movement as a whole. I can be the best hula hoop dancer in the world, but there are only 1,389 competitors world-wide. I can then walk around declaring that Iâ€™m an Olympic gold medalist! Just like Nathan Adrian and Usain Bolt! It devalues the accomplishment. How many elite wrestlers are there in the world today? Counter point that, you dewy, gullible, haiku-twirling communist!
Charlie Chaplin films are great but that doesn’t mean that all films produced today should be silent, black and white motion pictures. Wrestling had it’s time. And had many chances to adapt to the demands of an ever-changing world. It failed to do so.
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Benjamin Franklin
Wrestpectfully, Wrest in Peace.
*Yes, I ripped that off.