The Providence (R.I.) Journal, Feb. 22, 2013
We're sure that many citizens have noticed that members of the U.S. House and Senate take astonishing amounts of time off, or at least time when they aren't working in Washington. Most go home to campaign frequently — whether or not it's an election year. Another good reason for term limits! And they rarely meet on Fridays or weekends except in the most dire emergencies, such as their frenetic fiscal cliff work at the end of 2012 and start of this year.
Their lack of work on Capitol Hill shows up in bad legislation that many members don't bother to read, in leaving complex and controversial matters so often to the last moment, and in the undue power that legislators' very frequent absences give to the unelected people who staff their offices and who actually write most legislation.
As former Comptroller of the Currency David Walker noted, Congress usually takes all of August and at least a week for every federal holiday. They're off again this week! And other long stretches too, at short notice. The problem seems to get worse and worse as the years roll by.
Consider the equivalent of a full month that it plans to take off this spring — even as America faces major fiscal decisions on automatic spending cuts and President Obama's proposed budget.
Folks on Capitol Hill like to spout off about average Americans' wonderful work ethic. It would be nice if they showed more of themselves when it comes to legislating as opposed to campaigning. We'd also probably have a more effective Congress if members spent more time getting to know each other and each other's legislation and less time flying out of town to their districts, where they denounce fellow solons. And when they are in Washington, they spend an inordinate amount of time on K Street on the phone "dialing for dollars."
The Journal Tribune of Biddeford (Maine), February, 19, 2013
The world received some disappointing news when the International Olympic Committee announced that it would be cutting wrestling from the 2020 Olympics.
The decision to cut the ancient sport appeared to have come out of nowhere, blind-siding wrestlers and wrestling fans alike. Wrestling, after all, has been a part of the modern Olympics since 1896, and it was part of the ancient games in Greece. The sport is popular throughout the world as one with a long-standing history, especially in countries such as Iran and Greece, where wrestling is ingrained in the culture. In many cultures, people would wrestle for celebrations, contests or to show signs of respect. Wrestling represents the basic, human fighting instinct, which is why it has always been a popular sport.
The IOC's decision to cut the sport from the games doesn't seem to be well reasoned. In an Associated Press article, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said, "It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling, it is what's right with the 25 core sports."
Wrestling is extremely popular compared to other sports in the Olympics, but sports such as the modern pentathlon, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics remain on the list. We are not taking anything away from the athletes who compete in those sports, but wrestling is usually more well-attended and popular at the Olympics than these three.
In addition to removing a historic event from the games, the IOC is extinguishing the hopes of thousands of wrestlers who wish to continue their sport after college. Wrestlers do not have a system such as the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball that allows the elite wrestlers to meaningfully compete at a national or international level. The Olympics, for many wrestlers, was the big dance. It was their penultimate destination. It was their chance to make it big and make a name for themselves. Now, the IOC has taken that away from them and is telling them that the sport isn't as important as others, despite its history and cultural value.
Wrestling isn't the first popular sport that the IOC has taken away in the past without a reasonable explanation. Baseball and softball, venues for which almost always sold out, were not a part of the 2012 games in London.
What is also concerning with this change is wrestling's effect on other sports and how it is used as a base to create stellar athletes in the mixed martial arts. MMA is an extremely popular sport, and a lot of the take-down and ground skills that MMA fighters use come from grappling — a wrestling technique.
MMA has become more popular than boxing today, and it has wrestling to thank for that because the best fighters in the world have strong wrestling backgrounds. The take-downs, which come from wrestling, create crowd frenzies and lead to some of the most exciting tapouts in an event.
Thankfully, the international wrestling community has joined to voice its concerns about the sport being dropped, and maybe the IOC will listen and re-establish it for the 2024 games.
Until then, however, wrestling fans will just have to wait.