The over-the-top theatrics associated with "professional" wrestling from cage matches to costumes evolved as a means to entertain audiences.
Amateur wrestling, on the other hand, emphasizes sportsmanship, timing and tactics in a manner that is not necessarily made for television.
And though amateur wrestling draws participants from nearly 200 nations, its lack of TV appeal was among the reason the International Olympic Committee Executive Board on Tuesday voted to eliminate the sport from the 2020 Games.
The IOC opted to keep 25 core sports instead: aquatics, archery, athletics (track and field), badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, shooting, triathlon, sailing, volleyball and weightlifting.
But wrestling is not yet down for the count. The board's decision put it on an eight-sport "short list" from which one sport will be picked in May and added to the 2020 Games.
So the debate shouldn't be why wrestling is better than equestrian or modern pentathlon, but whether wrestling is more Olympic-worthy than baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu, which is a Chinese martial art.
It may not make for better TV than some of those sports, but its roots and international popularity should put it at the top of the list.
Wrestling dates to before the first ancient Olympic games in 776 B.C. and has been a part of the modern Games since they were reborn in 1896.
"A shift in priority has occurred in an era of outsize television contracts as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance, modernity and youthfulness in the Winter and the Summer Games," The New York Times reported.
Wrestling that is dressed up for television is acting more than athletics. But amateur wrestling is one of mankind's enduring athletic competitions and should remain in the Games as a nod to both tradition and the raw athletic talent demonstrated by its participants.