Above you see American taekwondo gold medalist Steven Lopez on the medal stand with his arms around silver medalist Joon Sik Sin of Korea and bronze medalist Hadi Saeibonehkohal of Iran after the three received their medals at the 2000 Games.
That's a nice moment shared among three athletes, but it's a moment that I guess a lot of people think never should have happened. After all, in the latest round of hand-wringing about mixed martial arts, we've heard over and over again that MMA is savagery. And if MMA is savagery, the fighting disciplines that are part of MMA must be savagery, too, right? So really, taekwondo shouldn't be an Olympic sport.
In a great column at NBCSports.com, Mike Chiappetta makes an important point: Boxing, judo, taekwondo and wrestling are all Olympic sports. How is it that a sport that combines those sports is somehow unacceptable?
Follow along here: boxing is an Olympic sport. So is judo and wrestling. Karate, jiu-jitsu and other martial arts forms are studied and respected by millions around the nation, and countless more around the world.My solution: The International Olympic Committee should either eliminate all sports that involve one-on-one combat, or it should adopt MMA as an Olympic sport. I guess all those MMA critics would vote for the former, but I vote for the latter.
Put them all together, though, and critics say it's part of the decline of civilization.
Read that again: separately, they are all honorable disciplines, but as one, it's suddenly "street-brawling" or "barbarism," and too violent to be seen.