2020 Olympic Wrestling: We Shouldn’t Get Too Confident

By | July 7, 2013

It’s wonderful that wrestling received eight of the 15 votes to become one of three sports who will make presentations in September. But in no way does this mean we have room for optimism. To the contrary, all that took place in St. Petersburg was we overcame the challenges of five considerably weaker opponents while failing to persuade seven other Executive Committee members that we’re a sport worth saving.

So Let’s Look at the Competition

As for Baseball, we’ll be in trouble if they bring the financial backing of MLB to the party. Right now they’re not on board with their sports Olympic effort but that could change at any moment. If it does, they’d bring to the Games the same amount of marketing expertise and revenue that the NBA’s Dream Team has. The result would be catastrophic; au revoir wrestling!

As for Squash, they have the support of a lower profile, yet very upscale global white-collar community. They definitely know how to market and have a fast paced, fan friendly, easy to understand sport; a few things wrestling isn’t.

Check out the spectator numbers in the photos below to get an idea of what we’re up against. The first one is from Squash’s campaign to become an Olympic sport and the second is from the recent World Team Trials in Oklahoma where the biggest match-up in the history of the sport took place; Dake versus Burroughs. More seats were empty than full for that match; so is that a wrestling problem or one of an inept organization that couldn’t sell water to a caravan of camels crossing a desert? When a different organization handled last year’s All-Star Classic in Washington DC with a Dake versus Taylor match-up, the gym was completely sold out with thousands of people on a waiting list.

Squash sets the stage for a high profile match.

A match for the ages - Kyle Dake vs. Jordan Burroughs

A match for the ages – Kyle Dake vs. Jordan Burroughs

IOC, FILA and USAW, Three Peas, Same Pod

In February, the IOC Executive Committee gave wrestling the boot, for multiple reasons. Unexpectedly they were inundated by a global outcry far larger than they expected so they did what all executive committees do, they started pushing things downstream.

In our case they turned around and now appear to be on our side by selecting wrestling as one of three finalists for the September meeting. All that does is throw the decision in the laps of the entire IOC.

If we’re reinstated, the Executive Committee can triumphantly exclaim, “We knew you’d make it, remember, we were the ones who voted for you in May!” If we lose our bid, “It’s not our fault you’re out, remember, we were the ones who voted for you in May.” All their bases are covered. That’s exactly what USAWrestling is trying to do right now, cover their 6 o’clock position if things head south. Except for one individual here who’s calling bullshit regardless of the outcome.

Please Help Me To Help You . . . And The Sport

I’m pretty good at ferreting out information on topics I wish to write about. What I’m not very good at, is issues I don’t know exist and where I’d like to ask for your help. Please contact me anytime you think you have something people would enjoy reading about at wschalles@cfl.rr.com. Regarding this, be assured, all correspondences I receive and all conversations I have with you are totally confidential, assuming you want anonymity.

Much Appreciated

I would like to thank each of you for taking the time to read my words. I accept the fact that each blog causes a paradigm shift in my address book but that’s okay if I can, in some small way, make a difference in the importance of our sport.

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13 thoughts on “2020 Olympic Wrestling: We Shouldn’t Get Too Confident

  1. Kurtis

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  2. David Edwards

    Wrestling should never have been dropped from the 2020 Olympics – that much is plain. However to then apply to be readmitted as a “new discipline” is an exercise in cynical sour grapes that affects emerging individual sports such as squash… Team sports such as Baseball/Softball no longer have a place in the Olympics and were dropped previously and should never be reinstated. Wrestling on the other hand should be immediately reinstated with an apology from the IOC – but not via this vote. This vote is seeking to add a new discipline and that should clearly be the sport of squash. We all want Olympic competition to be the pinnacle of individual sporting achievement and to be economically viable to be run in a wider variety of countries and, in my opinion, NO purely team sport (eg Soccer) should be retained.

  3. Anonymous

    Your act is getting tiresome. You are not helping the sport at all.

    Get over yourself. You have zero knowledge of the inner workings of these organizations. You are like the little kid who doesn’t get his way, and now needs attention.

    You would rather bring down your sport just to prove your point???
    Complete jackass!

    1. Wade Schalles

      Dear Anonymous . . . I’m sorry you feel the way you do. Obviously you think USAWrestling is “on track” and moving the sport in the direction you’d like to see it go.

      I’m not so sure you can convince the IOC that our leadership has the sports best interest at heart.

      As for me, I’m trying to be as accurate as possible and attach my name to everything I write. If you’re uncomfortable with either of those things, you might consider starting your own blog.


      1. Mike houston

        Anonymous–when a company or other organization do not embrace constructive criticism I’m afraid it will be at there own detriment. The top corporations most often have a very clear method of constantly measuring their employee and/or customer bases satisfaction. Without members being vocal on what they believe will make the organization better–how will the organization get better? If Wade is doing this for personal gain–what exactly is the gain? I believe Wade’s name is pretty popular without having to do this. If you think everything is running great–than maybe you should highlight that. It’s easy to throw out personal attacks against someone being vocal–now try writing about everything that is going great in wrestling. A point/counterpoint discussion may be beneficial. For instance, why wouldn’t USAW adopt the rule changes made by FILA immediately? Why make it up to each regions Director to enforce or not?
        Would love to hear your take on that.

    2. Jack Clark


      Unfortunately, our sport is already down for the count. Losing the Olympics is clearly the result of poor leadership and mismanagement by FILA and USAWrestling. Who are you blaming? The IOC? Let’s act like wrestlers and take some responsibility.

      What’s worse is that this SHOULD be no surprise to any of us. Wrestling has been on a downward spiral for DECADES.

      How many more college programs need to fold before we wake up and realize that we need to CHANGE the way that the sport is organized and marketed?

      I’m sorry that is not OBVIOUS to you. It really shows how OBLIVIOUS people are to really understanding the problem of how to run a sport.

      The ONLY reason that wrestling SURVIVES is because of the SACRIFICES that wrestling coaches make and the hard work of the kids.

      I’m sure that you can say that USAWrestling is not responsible for ALL the problems in wrestling, but these are self-evident to me, the:

      1) Downgrade of the sport in the Olympics
      2) Lack of response to the downward trends of the sport
      3) Worst online registration system on the face of the earth to get a USAWrestling card

      Any one of those is unforgivable. They’ve hit the trifecta!

      You criticize Wade for standing up for wrestling. Thank God he does! You read in his entries too, that he does this at the cost of losing goodwill and relationships that he has earned and cultivated over a LIFETIME of giving back to the sport. I’m sure that is not a pleasant task. Wade’s efforts are quite simply a RESCUE MISSION for wrestling.

      For anyone who loves this sport, we must be crystal clear that WE CAN NOT STAY WHERE WE ARE!

  4. Tony

    As well, the matches hadn’t started yet, this is during the anthem, so there were some popcorn lovers who hadn’t found their seats yet.

  5. Tony

    Wade, just a point fo clarification, that photo is not of the Dake vs Burroughs match, that’s from earlier in the day (not sure which day). Mat #1 was rolled up for the finals. See this photo, and there are bleachers with folks in them behind me. I would estimate about as many people at the squash event. http://www.wrestlersarewarriors.com/images/wrestling/open/2013/13WTT/13WTTPANO_MED.jpg Notice in the squash photo there are bleachers only on three sides, and the bleachers do not go that high.

  6. Detlef

    right words.
    that means we must work, work, work and not stop work and be happy.
    The game is finisht after the last secound, not one secound before.

  7. Mike houston

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I recently told a friend the pictures I was seeing from the World Team Trials made it look like it was an insurance salesman convention–only less spectators. The event in May in LA too had many empty seats. People need to admit when they are no good at something and step aside to make room for qualified people.

  8. Darrel Lauderdale

    Great Job Wade. I just hope the powers that be are listening

  9. Paul Christiansen

    Maybe more amazing than the number of empty seats is that the match took place in OK, a hotbed of wrestling. That should be an extremely easy ticket to sell.

    1. Mike houston

      Great point Paul–if you can’t sell it out in OK–then where? You can’t have every event in Iowa–or can you?


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