CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the story first hit the wire, I thought it was a gag.
The International Olympic committee is dropping wrestling from the summer games? Yeah, right. I'm sure. LOL. That and the 100-meter sprint.
I felt like Bugs Bunny rolling on the ground, laughing at Elmer Fudd. "Stop it Doc, yer killin' me."
Then I realized, hey, the IOC really is killing wrestling as an Olympic sport - with an elephant gun.
I also realized, hey, that hurts.
I imagine it does for many West Virginians.
Sure, football is king in the Mountain State. Hoops comes in second. And West Virginia isn't exactly a hotbed of wrestling excellence like, say, Iowa.
But we do like some Olympic rasslin'.
We watched Bruce Baumgartner. We watched Dave Schultz, who was later tragically shot by John DuPont. We watched Dan Gable, who went on to build a major-college dynasty at Iowa. We watched Jeff Blatnik come back from Hodgkins lymphoma in 1984.
We watched with awe Russian Aleksandr Karelin in 1988, '92 and '96. Dude was the best ever - until a kid from Wyoming, Rulon Gardner, ended Karelin's career in 2000. Karelin finally gave up an Olympic point, stepped away, bowed to Gardner and retired.
And the IOC is pitching that? It decided to keep modern pentathlon instead of wrestling? Dressage is OK, but not wrestling?
Wrestling is the contact equivalent of the 100-meter dash. Simplistic. See how fast a guy can run. See which guy is stronger in hand-to-hand battle.
No wrestling? As Bugs would say, what ultramaroons! What embezzles!
And, yes, we've had our connections in West Virginia. One of our favorites was Nate Carr, who was an Iowa State great but migrated to Morgantown and helped WVU coach Craig Turnbull.