3-7-2013 Brennan Slams Governors on Wrestling



Wrestling move is a strike against softball, baseball

Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports9:13p.m. EST March 6, 2013


Story Highlights

  • Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin signed letter in support of wrestling
  • Her state hosts softball’s College World Series and its Hall of Fame
  • A spokesman says the governor supports lots of sports

Olympic wrestling makes strange bedfellows. This week, the governors of 34 states took the highly unusual step of sending a letter to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge asking that wrestling be returned to the Olympic program for the 2020 Games.

The governors might not have realized it, but by officially supporting one sport, they effectively gave the back of their hand to two other popular U.S. sports, the combined American bid of softball and baseball.

Because only one sport is being selected for the Olympics later this year, if wrestling makes it back to the Games, as the governors suggested in their letter, then softball and baseball are out.

For one governor in particular, this was a curious decision. Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin signed the letter in support of wrestling even as her state is known as the mecca of softball. According to USA Softball, the College World Series in Oklahoma City brings in $17.5 million a year and the National Softball Hall of Fame, also in Oklahoma City, $13 million annually.

“The governor supports lots of sports and believes they are worthy of being included in the Olympics,” said her communications director, Alex Weintz, in an e-mail. “The fact that only a certain number of sports can be included, or that only one sport can be reinstated, is the result of rules and a process that Governor Fallin is not involved with.”

Except that now she is, putting her signature on a letter for wrestling, but not for softball, which was voted out of the Olympics in a 2005 election that was even more controversial than the recent wrestling decision.

“The governors either should be neutral or consider both sports,” said International Softball Federation president Don Porter, who has been working for more than seven years to have softball reinstated in the Olympic program. “Softball and baseball have ten times the participants that wrestling has in the U.S. Where were they the last time when women’s softball was dropped from the Olympic program?”

“Whenever U.S. politicians mess with international sports politics without knowing the ramifications, the results are counterproductive,” added women’s sports and softball advocate Donna de Varona.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is doing what the governors should have done and wisely not choosing sides, or any particular sport.

“We believe wrestling and softball should both be in the Games as they are not only great sports,” said USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky, “but sports that have done great things for women in sport.”

About the Author


Christine Brennan

Christine Brennan writes columns on national and international sports issues for USA Today. She’s also a commentator for ABC News, PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio, and the best-selling author of seven books.

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