Wednesday, April 08, 2009

olympic dreams

While we're on the topic of women's baseball, I was floored this week to discover that the International Baseball Federation is going to add women's baseball to their bid to get the sport reinstated for the 2016 Olympic Games. Apparently the move comes after a deal could not be reached between the main baseball and women's softball organizations.

I'm personally thrilled at the prospect of seeing women playing baseball on the Olympic stage. If it's not already obvious, hardball is much different from softball in many ways. So it's great to see that women and girls may not always have to accept the softball option as a "comparable" sport. Despite the existence of plenty of independent leagues around the U.S., as well as an international-level tournament team, there isn't one cohesive program similar to the well-oiled machine that exists for boys and young men who aspire to play at a high level. Having the sport as an Olympic game would certainly help make women's baseball more popular and well-established.

It also makes financial and competitive sense for the International Olympic Committee to include women's baseball over women's softball. The United States women's softball program has absolutely dominated in Olympic play, which makes the sport a lot less interesting to watch. And if host cities have to build or procure the use of one baseball stadium instead of one baseball stadium and one softball stadium, it makes things a lot cheaper, too.

Of course, there's still a long way to go before either women's or men's baseball gets added to the current Olympic program; the decision will be made in October, and there are a number of other sports putting in bids to be added. (Honestly, if squash gets in, I will be almost as excited.) But I'm cautiously optimistic that this might actually happen sooner than pigs might fly, which, suffice it to say, is a departure from my previous assumptions. By the way, if you're on Facebook, you can join this group to voice your support.

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