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Goon: Olympics should value the numerous benefits of wrestling
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When I heard that wrestling might be cut from the Olympics, I thought of Abraham Hernandez.

He was a wrestler at Kearns who I covered as a preps reporter. He was the child of immigrants, a senior when I met him. Wrestling had given him some purpose in life, a means to find his way to college and a pursuit to keep him out of trouble.

"Wrestling has given me friends, it's made me keep up my grades, it's allowed me to travel," he told me at the time.

Hernandez ended up a wrestler at Western Wyoming College, his life changed for the better.

I've never been a wrestler, but I've seen the people molded by hours in the gym, lifting, running, sparring. Wrestlers will tell you the mat is where they're challenged the most in their lives — physically and mentally. They'll tell you wrestling has helped them focus on schoolwork, or guided them in some other area of their lives. Its principles of hard work and determination have many other applications.

If wrestling is taken from the Olympics, yes, we'll miss the memories.

We'll long for the golden moments, such as Rulon Gardner's stunning upset. We'll miss Utah natives such as Cael Sanderson proving himself the world's best on sports' biggest stage.

But how much more are we limiting the dreams of tens of thousands of children all over the world?

Young athletes everywhere have Olympic visions and goals. Very few will ever achieve them, but many will benefit from having them. Even those who don't win the gold often come away from sports as better, more complete people. They understand how to handle adversity, how to persevere through extreme challenges.

For ages, long before there were Olympic Games, wrestling has served as a vessel for people to learn these lessons. Not everyone pursues it, but many of the people who do mature and grow. They make something of themselves.

I'm not an expert in modern pentathlon, but I understand the events associated with it: show-jumping, fencing and pistol shooting among them. I'm sure the athletes who pursue that sport also take lessons from it.

But wrestling has an accessibility and an intuitiveness to it that a sport such as modern pentathlon lacks. Anyone can wrestle. Kids with learning disabilities, kids who are immigrants or who are poor.

There's a lot of democratic value in that. A good wrestler can come from anywhere. And the Olympics, being a celebration of the sport, should value that trait. The Olympics should uphold the athletics that can teach us things about life, about being better people.

If you consider those factors above things such as lobbies, the debate is hardly one at all. Wrestlers all over the world are waiting for the International Olympic Committee to understand the error of its ways.

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

IOC decision • Wrestling provides guidance, helps concentration and is accessible to all.
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