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Butternut squash soup is delicious.
For one of the rare times in my career as a finicky eater, I kept an open mind when it came to trying the soup a year or so ago. It's a principle I'm trying to apply to another squash, though I still hope it gets squashed by wrestling in September.
Squash isn't being taken lightly by wrestling people today, or for the next four months. On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee announced the three sports that made the cut for its September vote for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Of the eight candidates, the survivors were wrestling, squash, and baseball/softball.
The latter seems like a dark horse given the IOC dropped baseball/softball after the 2008 Beijing Games. Major League Baseball has no intention of sending players off to the Olympics in the heart of the season, which was a reason the game fell out of favor with the IOC.
While you take nothing for granted regarding the IOC, it would seem squash is the primary foe when it comes to wrestling trying to get back into the 2020 Games after having been dropped in February.
“I always felt, as I got into this, that squash was a well-organized sport that's been trying to get in for quite some time,” wrestling's Dan Gable told The Gazette' K.J. Pilcher Wednesday. “They've been heavy in work and connections.”
I couldn't describe squash to you before Wednesday. The fact it was the favored sport of the Crane brothers on the sitcom “Frasier” suggested it was for the stuffy and snooty among us.
But that's not true, of course. It's played in singles or doubles in a four-walled court, like racquetball. Squash is played by two (singles) or four players (doubles) in a four-walled court with a small rubber ball that is struck at high speeds.
Squash isn't one of Iowa's top 10 (or maybe even top 100) sports, but the University of Iowa Field House and Coe College's Clark Racquet Center have squash courts.
As Coe men's and women's tennis coach Eric Rodgers told me Wednesday, “It's a cross between tennis and racquetball. It's a very efficient workout. You can get pretty darn hosed in about 45 minutes.”
Squash failed in two previous attempts to get into the Olympics. But it has been persistent. And it's globally popular.
It's played in 185 nations, something that probably appeals to the IOC. It uses glass courts, with creative lighting and camera techniques and high-energy music to make it more appealing as a televised sport.
Several tennis superstars past and present, including Roger Federer and Andre Agassi, have supported squash's Olympic effort.
To me, it's still kind of dull to watch. But some people say that about wrestling. And baseball. And everything else.
Wrestling clearly got up off the mat after getting taken down by the IOC three months ago. It made changes in leadership, changes in rules, changes in the number of weight classes for females. It has made a focused effort to appeal to play by the IOC's “rules” rather than claim it was simply deserving based on the sport's vast history.
Wrestling has four months left to overcome a worthy, prepared, determined opponent. It's a scenario every wrestling person can understand, which is a good thing.