Public Relations: Saving the Oldest Olympic Sport

Background 

In Strategic Sport Marketing (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk and Karg 2014) the authors present a case study which centres on the removal of amateur wrestling as a sport from the Olympic games. In this case study the authors suggest that the eventual survival of wrestling as a sport, in whole or in part, was due to the intervention of professional wrestling company TNA wrestling. This response considers a number of factors in determining whether the campaign was a success and, further to the authors proposition, what influence TNA wrestling had in the final outcome.

Response

In order to determine the success of this campaign the first requirement is defining what is success and, from this, determining what influence the TNA wrestling campaign had on achieving this outcome. Success in this case would see wrestling returned to the Olympics – a feat which occurred on September 8th, 2013 (BBC 2013). But what influence over this did the TNA public relations campaign have? While the quote in the Case Study (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk & Karg 2014, p. 318) identified Kurt Angle, and his then employer TNA, it also identified the International Wrestling Federation (FILA) – the world sanctioning body under which Angle won his two gold medals – who’s members also made up the international collective Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) (Smith 2016). Following the announcement to remove Wrestling by the IOC the standing president of FILA was removed following a vote of no confidence and, as suggested by other members of the FILA board, part of the removal of the sport was because of his dealings with the IOC (Smith 2016). This structural change allowed the FILA board to develop new ideas and present the sport to the IOC in a new light.

Around the globe national wrestling bodies were coming together in a show of unity, putting on events like the Rumble on the Rails at New York’s Grand Central Terminal (Raskin 2013). During this campaign Kurt Angle was a vocal participant, appearing and speaking out on behalf of the sport however, besides from being introduced as “TNA wrestling’s” Kurt Angle, there was little involvement from the company themselves. As a company with a history of poor management and PR (Murray 2016) – including most recently their failed attempt to have fans name an owl (Rueter 2017) – this seems to be another case of TNA (now Global Force Wrestling) trying to cash in on someone else’s hard work (Konuwa 2017). This evidence then suggests that the TNA public relations campaign had a minimal effect on Wrestling remaining an Olympic event beyond having an employee who happened to be a part of the CPOW. As for that committee, as seen in the evidence provided, the PR campaign they ran was a much more contributing factor to the success of the sports reinstatement.

 

References

BBC 2013, Olympics 2020: Wrestling reinstated to Games, BBC.com, 8 September, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/24009517&gt;

Konuwa, A 2017, ‘Matt Hardy Vs. Impact Wrestling: Who Owns The Broken Universe?’, Forbes, 13 March, viewed 11 September 2017, < https://www.forbes.com/sites/alfredkonuwa/2017/03/13/matt-hardy-vs-impact-wrestling-who-owns-the-broken-universe/#78d648073d92>

Murray, A 2016, 10 Ways TNA Totally Screwed Themselves Over,  WhatCulture.com, 20 October, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://whatculture.com/wwe/10-ways-tna-totally-screwed-themselves-over&gt;

Raskin, L 2013, Rumble on the Rails: USA, Russia, and Iran Embrace Each Other, creativetimereports.org, 20 May, viewed 11 September 2017, <http://creativetimereports.org/2013/05/20/rumble-on-the-rails-usa-russia-and-iran-olympic-wrestling/&gt;

Rueter, S 2017, Let’s help name TNA’s owl mascot, cagesideseats.com, 11 March, viewed 11 September 2017, <https://www.cagesideseats.com/tna/2017/3/11/14893964/name-tna-impact-anthem-owl-mascot>

Smith, S 2016, Grappling with the future: The story of how Olympic wrestling was saved, NBCOlympics.com, 18 August, viewed 11 September 2017, < http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/grappling-future-oral-history-how-olympic-wrestling-was-saved&gt;

Shilbury, D, Westerbeek, H, Quick, S, Funk, D & Karg, H 2014, Strategic sport marketing, 4th ednAllen & Unwin, Crows Nest.

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