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What Happens to Wrestling Now?

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COMMENTARY | What happens to wrestling now?

As new of the International Olympic Committee's decision to cut wrestling from the list of 2020 core Olympic sports rocked the wrestling community on Tuesday, fans, athletes and coaches alike understandably reacted in shock, anger and disappointment.

Before 10 a.m., multiple Facebook pages sprung up in support of the sport, and several online petitions were created in opposition to the committee's decision.

Athletes took to Twitter, Facebook and the like to decry the vote, post opinions, vent, and vow to see the sport return to the Games. Olympic champion and Oklahoma State head coach John Smith even created this video, in which he discusses the decision and the strength of the wrestling community world wide.

Cutting through all the anger, shock and surprise, perhaps one of the most important questions to ask is this: What happens to wrestling now?

What happens to a sport that no longer has an ultimate goal? What happens when there is no longer a common thread to tie the sport together?

Without the ultimate goal of an Olympic gold medal -- without Olympic inclusion -- wrestlers are likely to lose sponsorship and funding relatively quickly. Without funding, it becomes nearly impossible for elite-level athletes to go on international wrestling tours, and training trips are out of the question.

And it won't be only the freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers who are affected. Eventually, the impact will trickle down to the collegiate level and beyond, as well.

In the United States, many post-collegiate wrestlers continue to train for international competition while acting as assistant and volunteer coaches with collegiate programs. How does this decision affect wrestling at the college level, now that those coaches are no longer in training themselves? And what happens in the years to come, when those coaches have never even had that valuable post-collegiate freestyle and Greco-Roman training?

They are questions that can't be answered right now, but they are definitely questions worth thinking about. Should the IOC decide to confirm their decision and officially remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games, the sport is likely to change forever -- and the change is not likely to be positive.

So what happens to wrestling now?

I guess we will have to wait and see.

Read more from this author: Wrestling Could be Dropped from 2020 Olympic Games

During her career, Sandra Johnson has covered three Olympic Games. In addition, she also spent time working for the United States Olympic Committee, where she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement while learning about each Olympic sport. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46

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