Mid-week open thread: Sports and the great outdoors

I’m not much of a wrestling fan, but what the heck were members of the International Olympics Committee thinking when they voted to eliminate wrestling as an Olympic sport beginning in 2020? Wrestling is a much more important sport than some other events they’re keeping. The IOC is adding golf as an Olympic sport in 2016, but even professional golfer Zach Johnson, an Iowa native, disagrees with the IOC’s decision on wrestling. I’ve posted some Iowa political reaction to this news after the jump. UPDATE: More comments are below; also, Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign set up a “keep wrestling” website.

A few weeks ago, Republican State Representative Josh Byrnes made the discovery of a lifetime for a Hawkeye fan: a football signed by Nile Kinnick and other members of the 1939 University of Iowa team. Mike Wiser wrote up the story. Byrnes found the football in the place he’s renting with three other Iowa House Republicans during this year’s legislative session.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is training volunteers to help with their wildlife monitoring programs. They are looking for people to identify certain types of bird nests and frog and toad calls. I’ve posted some details after the jump.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is happening from February 15 to 18. You don’t have to be an expert bird-watcher to help scientists collect information about bird populations. This winter we’ve had more birds at our finch feeder than usual, and I learned they are pine siskins (closely related to goldfinches). They don’t always over-winter in Iowa.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Twitter posting on Governor Terry Branstad’s account:

Wrestling is an important sport that teaches hard work and builds character. The Int’l Olympic Committee shouldn’t cut it.

Facebook status update from Iowa House Democrat Dave Jacoby: “A message to the International Olympic Committee – it ain’t over yet!”

Democratic State Senator Tod Bowman spoke on the Iowa Senate floor about the IOC’s decision on February 13. He coached high school wrestling in Maquoketa for a long time. He later posted on Facebook,

Dropping wrestling from the Olympics is depriving our youth of the beauty of their dreams. I look forward to uniting with all wrestling fans to the fight this decision to no longer include wrestling in the Olympic games.

Republican State Senator Brad Zaun supported Bowman’s remarks.

“Iowa is wrestling. Iowa is the wrestling capital of the world,” Zaun said. He added he doesn’t consider the international committee’s decision final and he is looking forward to working with other Iowa lawmakers in doing what they can to keep wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Representative Bruce Braley statement, February 12:

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement after the International Olympic Committee announced they were dropping wrestling from the Olympic program, a decision that means wrestling will not be part of the summer Olympics starting in 2020:

“I’m outraged by the International Olympic Committee’s arbitrary decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic Games.  Wrestling is one of the oldest Olympic sports, dating to the games of the ancient Greeks.  Iowans are proud of our state’s long tradition of wrestling excellence – from Frank Gotch to Dan Gable to Cael Sanderson – and the IOC’s decision deals a major blow to the sport itself.”

World and Olympic Medalists with ties to Iowa

1.      Royce Alger (Lisbon and Iowa), 2nd in 1990

2.      Ed Banach (Iowa), 1st in 1984

3.      Lou Banach (Iowa), 1st in 1984

4.      Glen Brand (Clarion and Iowa State), 1st 1948

5.      Terry Brands (Sheldon and Iowa), 1st in 1993, 1st in 1995, 3rd in 2000

6.      Tom Brands (Sheldon and Iowa), 1st in 1993, 1st in 1996

7.      Chris Campbell (Iowa), 1st in 1981, 2nd in 1990, 3rd in 1992

8.      Nate Carr (Iowa State), 3rd in 1988

9.      Joe Corso (West Des Moines), 3rd in 1979

10.  Kevin Darkus (Iowa State), 2nd in 1985

11.  Barry Davis (Cedar Rapids and Iowa), 2nd in 1984, 3rd in 1986, 2nd in 1987

12.  Bobby Douglas (former ISU coach), 2nd in 1966

13.  Dan Gable (Waterloo, Iowa State, Iowa), 1st in 1971, 1st in 1972

14.  Kevin Jackson (Iowa State), 1st in 1991, 1st in 1992, 1st in 1995

15.  Gerry Leeman (Osage and UNI), 2nd in 1948

16.  Randy Lewis (Iowa), 1st in 1984

17.  Lincoln McIlravy (Iowa), 3rd in 1998, 2nd in 1999, 3rd in 2000

18.  Allie Morrison (Marshalltown), 1st in 1928

19.  Nat Pendleton (Davenport), 2nd in 1920

20.  Brad Penrith (Iowa), 2nd in 1991

21.  Ben Peterson (Iowa State), 1st in 1972, 3rd in 1973, 2nd in 1976

22.  Cael Sanderson (Iowa State, 2nd in 2003, 1st in 2004

23.  Bill Smith (Council Bluffs and UNI), 1st in 1952

24.  Chris Taylor (Iowa State), 3rd in 1972

25.  Tolly Thompson (Janesville), 3rd in 2005

26.  Jake Varner (Iowa State), 3rd in 2011, 1st in 2012

27.  Joe Williams (Iowa), 3rd in 2005

28.  Bill Zadick (Iowa), 1st in 2006

29.  Mike Zadick (Iowa), 2nd in 2006

[SOURCE: National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum, Waterloo, IA]

Braley press release, February 13:

Braley Presses IOC to Reconsider Decision to End Wrestling at the Olympics

Braley: Wrestling is a sport “at the heart of the Olympic movement and what it means”

Washington, D.C. – In a letter to IOC President Jacque Rogge, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) pressed the organization to immediately reconsider their decision to remove the sport of wrestling from the Olympic Games, effective with the 2020 games.

“Wrestling’s historical and international importance across hundreds of years should not be so arbitrarily dismissed by the Olympic Committee. Wrestling is more than a sport.  It has broken down diplomatic barriers during times of international crisis like the Cold War and the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and brings deeper understanding to citizens of many different cultures and nations.  That’s at the heart of the Olympic movement and what it means,” said Braley.

“Additionally, we cannot forget wrestling’s great history and importance to Iowans. We are well-known for our universities’ numerous collegiate championships and our world-renowned Olympians like Dan Gable. It would be an absolute shame if future generations of young Iowans were not able to live their Olympic dreams and continue Iowa’s grand tradition of wrestling champions. That’s why I’m urging the IOC to reconsider and hope they reverse this outrageous ruling.”

The full text of Braley’s letter to IOC Chairman Count Dr. Jacques Rogge follows; a copy of Braley’s Letter can be found at the following link: http://1.usa.gov/XzZSmd

February 13, 2013

Count Dr. Jacques Rogge


International Olympic Committee Executive Board

Château de Vidy

Case postale 356

1001 Lausanne


Dear Dr. Rogge,

I’m writing in strong opposition to the Committee’s decision yesterday to remove wrestling from the Olympic program.  As you know, wrestling is one of the oldest Olympic sports, dating to the games of the ancient Greeks.  Given the sport’s proud tradition at the Olympics, I urge the committee to re-consider its decision and reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Wrestling has long been a sport which broke down diplomatic barriers during times of international tension. U.S. wrestlers traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia during the Cold War, and wrestled their brothers from the Soviet Union.  After the Iranian hostage crisis, U.S. wrestlers traveled to Tehran and opened doors for deeper understanding between citizens of both countries.  This shining example of Citizen Diplomacy is the core value on which the modern Olympic movement was founded.  It would be a travesty to consign the moments to the dustbin of history simply because of something as trivial as television ratings.

I’m proud to tell you that my home state of Iowa has a strong wrestling history and tradition.  This proud history includes wrestling legends such as Frank Gotch, Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson.  Twenty-nine people with ties to Iowa have won World and Olympic Medals.  I’m very disappointed that the Committee is depriving future Iowa wrestlers of the opportunity to achieve their dream of winning an Olympic medal.

I urge the committee to reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport.  I ask that the Committee please respond to my letter within 10 business days informing me as to whether or not they will reinstate wrestling as an Olympic sport.


Bruce L. Braley

Member, United States Congress


James Ravannack, President, USA Wrestling

Dan Gable, National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

Kyle Klingman, Director National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum

Tom Brands, University of Iowa

Kevin Jackson, Iowa State University

Doug Schwab, University of Northern Iowa

Cael Sanderson, Penn State University

UPDATE: Senator Chuck Grassley released this statement on February 14.

Grassley, Brown Senate Resolution Disapproves Proposal to Eliminate Olympic Wrestling

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Sherrod Brown today introduced a resolution to express disapproval by the U.S. Senate of the proposal from the International Olympic Committee Executive Board to eliminate wrestling from the Summer Olympic Games beginning in 2020.

“Wrestling was part of both the ancient Greek Olympic Games and the modern Olympic Games, and wrestling remains a popular sport around the world, so it’s very hard to understand the Olympic Committee’s decision,” Grassley said.  “I’m hopeful that the negative public reaction to the decision and other efforts like this resolution can reverse the decision to recommend eliminating wrestling from the Summer Games.”

“Wrestling is a historical heavyweight among Olympic sports, and has a proud tradition in my state of Ohio,” Brown said. “From youth wrestling camps and high school meets to NCAA tournaments-athletes in Ohio have learned the strength, discipline, and focus that allow grapplers to succeed both on the mat and in life. This sport is accessible to everyone around the world, regardless of their financial circumstances. The IOC should not ratify this preliminary decision by its executive board.”

Click here to read the Brown-Grassley Sense of the Senate Resolution.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Representative Dave Loebsack and two other U.S. House members “introduced a resolution calling for wrestling to be added back to the Summer Olympics.”

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to change this ruling on behalf of Iowa’s, and America’s, storied wrestling history,” said Loebsack, whose state has produced a number of Olympic wrestlers. […]

Loebsack introduced his resolution, H.Res. 71, with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who also called on the IOC board to reverse the decision it announced this week.

“Wrestling defines the Olympic spirit like no other sport,” Jordan said. “The IOC got this one dead wrong, and their decision threatens to extinguish the dreams of countless American athletes.”

Loebsack’s resolution states that wrestling is recognized as one of the world’s oldest sports, dating back to 3,000 B.C., and is one of the original sports in the Greek Olympic games.

It also notes that 280,000 high school students wrestle in the U.S., and there are 300 intercollegiate wrestling programs.

“[W]restling represents the determination and hard work it takes to succeed in life and sport,” it adds.

Here’s the press release from Loebsack’s office on February 15:

Loebsack Announces Strong Iowa Support for Resolution Opposing Olympic Decision to Drop Wrestling

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Dave Loebsack introduced a Resolution (H.Res. 71) with Jim Jordan (OH-04) and Tim Walz (MN-01) expressing opposition to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to eliminate wrestling as a core sport. Today, three legends of Iowa and Olympic wrestling, Dan Gable, Tom Brands and Terry Brands threw their support behind the resolution. Loebsack will continue to work with his colleagues in Congress and those in the wrestling community to push to overturn this misguided decision.

“We haven’t done a good enough job in sharing our sport to the right people (IOC). We need to start doing that this second and I thank Representative Loebsack for leading the charge in Congress to express our state’s, and nation’s, opposition to this decision.  This needs the whole team’s involvement. I will stand with him to fight this decision,” said Dan Gable.

“The decision to cut wrestling from the Olympic Games by the IOC is a worldwide injustice. Every corner and culture of the planet is affected by this decision. There is nothing more sacred to living than learning to overcome struggles. Wrestling, more than any other form of sport and recreation, represents all that is real and true about life. When decisions are made it is always tough to reconsider. The IOC must not only reconsider, they must reverse their decision. I applaud Congressman Loebsack for introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives to encourage the IOC to reverse this decision. Intelligent decision making has to prevail here and now. We must all work hard and smart together,” said Tom Brands.

“Wrestling and the Olympics are synonymous, together as one.  As the oldest, greatest and purest sport, I will look, with pleasure, to the World Wide Coalition reversing the IOC vote to eliminate wrestling.  I am pleased to stand tall with Congressman Loebsack and fully support his resolution opposing the IOC’s decision,” said Terry Brands.

“The decision by the International Olympic Committee is a slap in the face to the wrestling community. Iowans share a strong attachment to the sport, but also to the hard work, perseverance and determination it represents.  I applaud Dan, Tom and Terry for standing up with one voice against this decision and I look forward to fighting alongside them,” said Congressman Loebsack.

Also today, Loebsack joined Iowa Governor Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Senators Grassley and Harkin, and Representatives Latham, King, and Braley in writing a letter to IOC President Jaques Rogge urging the IOC to keep wrestling as a core sport.

Braley’s office announced on February 15 that he had joined “Reps. Loebsack, Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Tim Walz (D-MN) yesterday to introduce a US House resolution challenging the IOC’s decision.”

On February 15, all six members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation, Governor Branstad, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds signed a letter to IOC President Jaques Rogge urging the IOC to preserve wrestling as an Olympic sport.

The Branstad campaign is going to collect thousands of signatures through this “keep wrestling” website.

From the Iowa DNR’s website:

The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP) is for enthusiastic and sharp-eyed, sharp-eared volunteers who have a passion for wildlife and its conservation. With more than 800 species in our state, the wildlife staff can’t possibly keep track of all these critters in every corner of the state. We need volunteers that are willing and interested in collecting data on two important and sensitive groups of wildlife.

Bird Nest Monitoring

The Bird Nest Monitoring Program focuses on two special groups of birds: Raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons, owls) and Colonial Waterbirds (herons, egrets, night-herons, cormorants). These two groups of top predators are particularly sensitive to environmental changes, making them not only fascinating animals to observe but also important animals to monitor.

At a Bird Nest Monitoring workshop, volunteers learn how to identify Iowa’s raptors and colonial waterbirds, find and map a nesting site, and report observations of nesting activity to the Wildlife Diversity Program. A special emphasis is placed on monitoring Bald Eagle Nests and participants of a workshop will leave with an assigned nest site to observe.  Alternatively, if you are very interested in becoming an Eagle Nest Monitor but can’t make it to a training you can check out our training video to get started!

Frog and Toad Call Survey

Amphibians are currently in global decline and face many environmental stressors. Frogs and toads are our most melodious inhabitants of Iowa’s wetlands. Since 1991 the DNR Wildlife Diversity Program has coordinated a statewide yearly survey of frogs and toads. Over the years hundreds of volunteers have helped with this survey and, by attending a VWMP frog and toad training workshop, you can help with this important work. Routes are set up across Iowa and trained volunteers are needed to adopt and survey these routes.

Participants in the Frog and Toad Call Survey workshop will learn to identify Iowa’s frogs and toads by sight and sound, and then how to collect and report data to the Wildlife Diversity program and to the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP). Volunteer-collected data will not only be used by Iowa, but at regional and national levels too!


2013 Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Workshops!  

Workshops require a $10 registration fee which pays for training materials, a meal, subscription to our bi-annual newsletter, a frog and toad call CD or bird identification guide, and certification costs. To register, please download and complete the registration form for the desired workshop and return it with the $10 fee to: VWMP; Boone Wildlife Research Station; 1436 255th St.; Boone, IA 50036. Registration for each workshop will be first come, first served.

Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Workshop Registration Form

Bird Nest Monitoring Workshops

Anyone interested in being a Bald Eagle Nest Monitor must participate in some training.

February 23, 2013  – O’Brien County

Location: O’Brien County Conservation’s Prairie Learning Center 4931 Yellow Ave.; Peterson, IA

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

March 16, 2013 – Muscatine County

Location: Muscatine County Conservation’s Environmental Learning Center, Discovery Park on Cedar Street in Muscatine, IA

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

March 23, 2013 – Marshall County

Location: Marshall County Conservation’s Grimes Farm and Conservation Center 2349 233rd St., Marshalltown, IA

Time: 10:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Frog and Toad Call Survey Workshops

Anyone interested in participating in the Frog and Toad Call Survey must attend a training.

April 2, 2013 – Osceola County

Location: Osceola County Conservation’s Nature Center at Willow Creek Park 5945 Hwy 9 Ocheyedan, IA

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

April 9, 2013 – Jefferson County

Location: Jefferson County Conservation’s Nature Center and Jefferson County Park Livbertyville Rd.; Fairfield, IA

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

April 11, 2013 – Cerro Gordo County

Location: Cerro Gordo County Conservation’s Nature Center and Lime Creek Area 3501 Lime Creek Rd; Mason City, IA

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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