The International Olympic Committee may have kicked wrestling out of the Olympics, but the ancient sport lives on in the lives of the many amateur athletes still taking part in competitions.
One wrestler at the University of Minnesota may have seen his days as a competitive wrestler come to an end, however — all because he recorded an inspirational rap song.
Joel Bauman is a 21-year-old redshirt sophomore wrestling for the University of Minnesota. At least, he was. The NCAA just ruled Bauman ineligible to compete for the rest of the season.
The reason? A song called “Ones in the Sky,” an inspirational rap song that Bauman recorded and uploaded to YouTube (where it has nearly 50,000 views). The song is also available for download on iTunes, for the customary 99 cents.
The NCAA isn’t exactly thrilled about this. The organization says Bauman is running afoul of its rules, which stipulate that amateur athletes cannot use their name, image or status to sell a commercial product.
From the sound of things, Bauman could make this whole problem go away and continue taking part in NCAA competitions if he simply changed the song’s credit to list him under a pseudonym. He wants none of that, however.
“I think a lot of artists and rappers today hide behind their aliases,” Bauman told the New York Times. “They don’t want to take responsibility for what they’re actually saying. I’m Joel Bauman. My message is: I will inspire, and I will impact. I am not going to hide behind an alias to do that, because that’s my message. I can own up to that message.”
The University of Minnesota team isn’t exactly hurting without Bauman — they just regained the top spot in the national rankings — but it’s the principle of this story that matters. Bauman will be stripped of his athletic scholarship if he doesn’t regain his eligibility.
“I have a plan to figure this whole thing out, to be able to do both,” he said, perhaps overly hopeful of a positive resolution. “But my message is more important than my eligibility in the long run. So if I can’t, then so be it.”