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Public Statements

Eliminating Olympic Wrestling

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BROWN. Madam President, I rise in support of a great sport with a great tradition in our Nation, especially in Ohio. Unfortunately, the sport of wrestling may be put on the sidelines at the Olympic games.

Citing ``an effort to ensure the Olympic games remain relevant to sports fans of all generations,'' the International Olympic Committee--the organization that controls the Olympics--voted to eliminate wrestling from the summer games after the 2016 Olympics. They want to end wrestling, one of the original Olympic games, while keeping other games that, frankly, lack the central role wrestling has played in its accessibility to all athletes wherever they live.

Many of these are young people who lack access. Many of them want and do compete in wrestling at the high school level, the intercollegiate level or perhaps at the Olympic level but lack access to fancy equipment or specialized training. They simply want to compete at a sport perhaps almost as old as humanity.

Wrestling has opened doors for working and middle-class youngsters from Ohio and around the country. That is why I recently introduced a Senate resolution opposing the elimination of wrestling from the Olympics beginning in 2020. On behalf of thousands of high school students and two 2012 Olympians with Ohio connections, I am asking the Olympics committee to reconsider putting a stranglehold on one of the original Olympic sports.

Wrestling has been a sport far longer than the International Olympic Committee has been in existence. In addition to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks and Romans, our Nation has a long history with wrestling. President Lincoln was a wrestler, and two Ohio-born Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant and William Howard Taft, were wrestlers. One of our former colleagues--beloved in many ways--my friend Paul Wellstone of Minnesota was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000.

At the time of his induction, he said:

Wrestling has always been a big thing for me. I've had a love affair with the sport for most of my life. It helped me as a kid. I got in some trouble, then I found a sport I was good at, and that transferred to better things in other areas.

The same is true for some 11,000 high school wrestlers and students at 4 universities with 17 NCAA wrestling programs in my home State. From youth wrestling camps to high school meets such as the renowned J.C. Gorman Invitational in my hometown of Mansfield, to the NCAA tournaments, students from Ohio learn the strength, the discipline, and focus that allow grapplers to exceed both on the mat and beyond.

Wrestling is accessible for working-class athletes, unlike some of the sports protected in the IOC's decision. Wrestling has a proud tradition in my State, in the United States, and has a proud tradition around the world. The IOC should not ratify this preliminary decision by its executive board. It should continue its efforts to remain relevant for all athletes and communities around the world.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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