There is no quality implicit in citizens of the United States, Russia and Iran dictating that we can’t get along. In fact, it is the actions of policy makers that perpetuate conflict and war.
So it is strange that a campaign to keep wrestling in the 2020 Olympic Games—after the International Olympic Committee announced it would drop the sport—should promote the message, “wrestling makes friends of foes.” This hackneyed ideology presumes that the wrestlers identify with their countries’ aggressive stances and consider each other foes.
But when I went to watch a wrestling competition at New York’s Grand Central Terminal on May 15 between the United States, Russia and Iran, I witnessed as much tenderness as aggression among the athletes. Wrestling is a savagely beautiful sport.
Here are five reasons that explain why I believe wrestling should remain in the 2020 Olympics:
1. Wrestling promotes the notion that one can compete and exhibit simultaneous empathy for their competitor.
2. The Olympic Games are the goal that all athletes focus on as they commit to rigorous training regiments. Beneficiaries of this dream include at-risk youth.
3. Wrestling creates a community where cultural exchange is actually possible.
4. International wrestling provides the opportunity for competitors to travel, see the world for themselves, formulate their own opinions about other nations and dispel myths perpetuated by nationalist agendas and ignorance.
5. Wrestling provides an arena for intergenerational mentoring and communication.