Do the Right Thing, IOC | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Do the Right Thing, IOC

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Last week the International Olympic Committee selected wrestling, softball/baseball (combined bid) and squash as sports for its short list of those to include in the 2020 Olympic Games. It dropped wrestling from the 2020 games in February, but now it has one final shot to make the games.

Five other sports failed to make the final list: karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the Chinese martial art of Wushu. Baseball and softball decided to combine their bid for a better chance of making the games.

Wrestling has been a part of the Olympics since the modern games in Athens in 1896. The sport has roots all the way back to the ancient Olympics held 
in Greece.

Dropping wrestling was a terrible move. The sport should be protected and guaranteed inclusion in every Olympic Games, and in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines.

If the IOC wants to make things right, it will include wrestling in the 2020 games and leave a spot open for one of the other finalists. That spot should go to baseball/softball--which the IOC never should have been dropped from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was the first sport it cut since polo in 1936.

Both wrestling and baseball/softball should be a part of the Olympic games--without a doubt. To merit inclusion, baseball is a global sport, and wrestling's deep history should protect its spot on the roster.

The IOC wasn't done, though. Last week, it denied the International Federation of American Football's initial application for IOC recognition.

To grow the sport globally, IOC recognition would be a big step for football. In theory, countries that fund Olympic sports could support football athletes and promote growth in countries that do not have the sport.

More than sixty countries on six continents are sanctioned IFAF members for their men's and women's teams. In the 2013 NFL Draft, teams selected 10 foreign-born players, and picked five of the 10 in the first two rounds of the draft.

IOC recognition is just the first step to football being including in the Olympics. There is no way that 11-on-11 football would make the Olympic Games; the allotted time frame would make it unfeasible. Instead, football can use the same blueprint as rugby, which is included in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The best way for football to make the Olympics would be seven-on-seven football, a format that has been growing in the United States where high schools and colleges run tournaments. Recently a seven-on-seven flag-football league started in Jackson. The format would open the door for top college athletes or recently retired NFL players to take part in the Olympics. (Injury concerns would make the chances a long shot for seeing current NFL players in the games.)

Maybe the IOC will do the right thing on one, maybe two of these issues. Expecting the IOC to do the right thing three times seems impossible.

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