Today, I finished a book titled “American Victory”. I’m guessing not many of you have heard of it, it’s the story of Henry Cejudo, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist for the USA in wrestling. It may have taken me about a year or so to finish it, but it’s done. I would have finished it in the beginning, but I put it down and lost track of it until recently, so now that it is finished. The amount of time elapsed for me to finish the book is my first point of the post. There are so many other outlets today, aside from actual plans, work, school, etc. where you can be entertained, that books have been placed at the end of the entertainment ladder, (for me) right next to board games actually, again this is specifically for me. I don’t want to offend anyone who is a hardcore monopoly fan or someone who reads a lot because I would love to be a part of both of those pastimes and am slightly disappointed in myself that I haven’t really taken either of them up consistently.
With the immediacy of the computer, television, video games, there is no thinking or creative process involved or necessary to picture about what is happening. The only image which is being created is what the game developer, or producer is trying to get across to you. I feel like because of all of these options which require much less thinking, I opt for them as opposed to the book (I am sure I am not alone) because of the easiness of having someone think for you. Really making myself sound lazy right now, but back to the book. Henry Cejudo had an amazing story to go along with his Olympic medal. I am sure if he was in a more revenue-generating sport like basketball, as opposed to wrestling, there would easily be a movie made after him. Maybe we will be a lucky and a producer will reach out and use his story, keep your eyes peeled for the movie “American Victory” in the future. If it is half as good as the book then it will be a pretty solid movie.
Anyway, the book starts off with Henry Cejudo making weight for the Olympics. He had to lose ten pounds in an hour to make weight and then wrestle hours later, an amazing feat in and of itself, but he also won a medal along the way. The book flashes back to Henry’s childhood where he moves from shack to shack with his proud Mother and six or so brothers and sisters from California to Phoenix and many places in between. He finally takes up wrestling in high school after he was being paid to beat up other kid in the park my some crazy men, just to afford ice cream. His early mentor Tracy takes Cejudo to wresting practice with his older brother Angel, and the two rotate on who wears the wrestling shoes from practice to practice. Henry challenges the best kids at any tournament he may go to, and always stays for double sessions at practices. He goes right from high school in Arizona to training at the Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs. In 2007, Cejudo placed last in his weight at the World Championships. In 2008 he wasn’t even favored to win the Trials but he did. He then won every match from behind en route to his gold medal, aside from his finals match. Cejudo gives back to the community now as a motivational/ public speaker.
Now this is just an overview of the story, but I think anyone would find it enjoyable, wrestler or non-wrestler. I think this is one of the problems about media and advertising though. If anyone wins a gold medal, they get lots of publicity right after the games. After that, in sports like wrestling, or others which are not as mainstream, you are on your own. Just because you get more publicity doesn’t make your gold medal any better. Our society is so narrowly focussed on mainstream sports that others which I believe deserve some publicity at least every four years in the Olympics get none. The television networks need to show the most popular sports at the best times so that they will get better ratings, and make their advertisers happy. If we put wrestling on primetime, who are we going to advertise to? Valid point, but shouldn’t the Olympics be more about the athletes than about the money? Cejudo receives a stipend of $20,000 a year and had some lump some less than $250,000 for winning the gold. This is not much for an athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his sport. It is very similar actually to how the NCAA takes advantage of college athletes, not being able to make anything off of their playing. Granted Cejudo does make money, but the television networks are making so much more it is like exploitation. Corporate America is so greedy that they cannot afford to take one step back every four years and give coverage to the sports where it is due.