Olympic-level athletes in some popular sports are facing a nail-biter this weekend. Members of the International Olympic Committee are set to gather in Buenos Aires to decide whether wrestling, squash or a combined bid of baseball and softball will be included in the next Olympics.
Each sport has its supporters for various reasons. But only one of them will be included in the 2020 games. KPCC spoke with three individuals about why they hoped to see their preferred sport get chosen.
Let's start with wrestling, which goes all the way back to the Ancient Olympic Games. South Pasadena High School wrestling coach Al Shuton says it is one of the few sports in Olympics where the athletes don't get paid to do what they do.
"There is no professional level of wrestling," says Shuton. "It's wrestlers who compete for the Olympics or try to make the team. They are doing it for the true love of the sport and it's probably, in my opinion, it's one of the true wholesome athletic activities that is still in existence today."
The IOC removed the sport from the list of core Olympic games at a meeting in February. Results from the London Games showed that not many people attended the wrestling events, and not many viewers watched them on TV.
But what about America's favorite pastime? Evan O'Meara is Head Baseball Coach at Pasadena City College and he says baseball will be fine without the Olympics, but softball players will miss out.
"For most of them their playing days will end with collegiate softball," says O'Meara. "And yes, there are world championships in softball but the real glory of that sport happens every fourth year when they play in the Olympics, and I think it would be a real disservice, especially to softball if it weren't included."
Baseball and softball were excluded from the Olympics in a 2005 vote because of their perceived American dominance. The two sports joined together to make one stronger federation to stay in the Olympics.
Lastly, there's squash. While it's not as widely-played in the US as baseball, it nonetheless has been named the world's healthiest sport by "Forbes" magazine. Joe Mersola is a player at the Burbank Squash Club.
"The professionals -- for people that have never played the game -- make it look so simple," says Mersola. "But once you've played the game, you can understand the skill level that is actually involved in it. When people ask me what's the difference between racquetball and squash, I tell them it's the difference between chess and checkers. One is really simple, a no brainer. And the other is really a thinking man's game that takes years of experience to master."
Squash nearly made it into the London Olympics in 2012 but was ultimately denied when it failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote from the International Olympic Committee.
Official representatives for each sport will make their final pleas Sunday morning. Committee members will then make their decision on which sport to include in the 2020 Olympics.