I wrote this text a few days before the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Today, there are no more important things than helping Ukraine. However, I am sure that one day we will come back to these Olympic deliberations. ()
The development of armwrestling...
The develompent of armwrestling so: does armwrestling need the Olympic Games? I will ask a simple, brutal question: what would it need them for? For “farther development”? What, then, is this said “farther development” supposed to look like? Let's begin with this.
The so-called development of our beloved sport is... Exactly! Let's all think carefully! Think specifics! Is it for our sport to be as popular as MMA? Of course, we would all love that. Is MMA an Olympic sport?
Moreover, to reach great audiences and real popularity, all it took was one organization, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), a few smaller with our Polish one included (KSW) and a few hundreds of tiny ones. Thousands of athletes, from amateurs through professionals to absolute Masters. Hours of transmissions, including pay-per-views. A few dozen of idols, this whole aura around it, the preparations, press conferences, backstage materials and many more. This turn of events would definitely satisfy us, armwrestling lovers.
So... Why are we trying so hard to get into the Olympic family? Let me tell you! All these years, people connected to different armwrestling organizations, European and national organizations, made us believe armwrestling at the Olympics should be our ultimate goal!
I don't think it was ill-intentioned of them. I think they just read the room incorrectly. In my opinion, people from post-soviet countries who are connected to sports could never imagine a sports organization different than national. National sports unions, national trainings, jobs from presidents to trainer assistants, delegates, “activists”. This is what they aimed for and maybe still are.
They are people who “didn't notice” the system had crumbled down!
A few years ago they still made us believe that it was going to be “soon”, that talks were in progress with some “committee”, that we're “a step away” from the Olympics.
In my opinion, there's not a chance for that! Even worse – there have never been any!
Let's think - “what” or “who” decides whether a sport should become an Olympic discipline? The answer is only seemingly easy. The International Olympic Committee... Well, yes, but... Actually, what decides that is... the spectator! The audience! A typical, fat dude on a couch with a beer in his hand. This “statistical” spectator can't focus for longer than a few minutes on one thing and has to jump the channels all the time. He looks at hockey, then he gets bored and looks at bobsleigh, boring, maybe figure skating... The International Olympic Committee has to keep its cool! It has to feed all of its officials. So – it has to earn money, precisely on maximal views. If the views are to be at their highest, then this statistical spectator should get a “mush”. Anything that's dramatic. Speed skaters bumping into each other, ski jumpers falling, figure skaters fainting from fatigue...
I'm very critical towards this “statistical” spectator but I'm not mad at him. Most of them was brought up this way. Anything, anything will do if there's something happening, flashing, jumping!
Fortunately, there are also other spectators in the world, too. Spectators, lovers, fans, experts, passionate followers of non-olympic sports often described as “niche”. They stand in the cold for hours to watch ice scooter regattas. Somehow, they can do without being at the Olympics. The same with American football, Australian football, speedway.
And, of course – MMA...
There are, therefore, no chances for the Olympics when it comes to armwrestling. It would be stupid to still blindly believe that. What's the furture of armwrestlers and the sport's fans, then? I would love for armwrestling to follow in the footsteps of boxing and MMA. A few serious, international organizations, belt fights, professional rankings, starts, promotors. All of it at the top, the best level. Promoted and sold in pay-per-view. If promotors feel out or calculate “how much armwrestling” will be enough for the spectators, we will reach a balance. The organizers will be pleased, spectators – satisfied and athletes will earn.
Professional box wouldn't exist without its amateur background, just as MMA. That's why the basis should be “national” armwrestling. It's obvious. Let's be real – it should be a purely amateur sport! Professional – when it comes to spectator, trainer, referee and organizer engagement. Amateur as in without big money. We only need sponsors and we should keep getting them. There's no way to count on the government's support. The only way is to popularize armwrestling so much that sponsors find it tempting to invest in.
It would be best for every country to have an amateur armwrestling organization. So that they don't waste strength and the assets – young athletes. It would be even better if there was only one National Champion title so that it wouldn't be necessary to add which organization the title is about. This perfect situation is now in Poland and in other countries gathered in the International Federation of Armwrestling (IFA).
You can't help but notice, though, that IFA is not the only international organization in amateur armwrestling. There's also World Armwrestling Federation (WAF) and its European counterpart, EAF.
Do WAF and EAF still “believe” in the Olympics? I don't know. I just wouldn't want for any athlete or spectator to believe that.
What will it all become? What should we do as the armwrestling society?
First of all, we shouldn't live in dreams. We shouldn't invest in mirages! Especially not in the ones who provide us with these false hopes and ideas.
At national level, we should concentrate on proper conduction of the most important events. At continent level as well. At the top – World Championships.
What about the professionals?
This is what promotors should worry about. Let them search, check, pick pretenders and make ranking lists.
Let's not regret the “Olympic mirage”!