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Olympics oust baseball

Isaac Lorton | Thursday, April 19, 2012

As I am writing this, there are 99 days, 22 hours and 11 minutes until the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

But really, who’s counting?

Every four years the world comes together to celebrate in the competition of sports. Fighting across the world seems to be at a stand-still as sports give us something to cheer for, something to hope for and above all something to agree upon. Yet sadly, there is something missing this time around.

Is it the table tennis, badminton, synchronized swimming or even handball? No … Unfortunately, baseball and softball will not be making an appearance this year. These two sports are the first events to have been cut since polo in 1936.

Seriously, why baseball and softball? Baseball and softball have spread their popularity across the globe in the past decade. That is everywhere but Europe, which holds a tremendous amount of power in the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Since both baseball and softball are truly American sports, is this a shot on the world level against America?

Some might say yes, and I might be inclined to agree, but this is also a shot against many South American countries and many Asian countries. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC), the final four teams were Japan, Venezuela, Korea and the States, but the U.S. did not even advance. It was Japan against Korea with Japan coming out on top. The IOC claimed that baseball was not popular enough, especially with the best of the best, our MLB players, staying home. Ironically, the IOC also argued baseball played in favor of the U.S. Yet, as the WBC showed the world’s best players can compete and even beat players – Major League players at that – of the U.S.

So tell the IOC baseball has not become a world sport.

The dominance factor for the U.S. might have been a more valid and compelling argument when voting to get rid of softball at the world level, as they out-scored their opponents 51-1 in the 2004 Olympics. But there have been plenty of other sports dominated by one country, such as Great Britain and soccer, which was not voted away. As time went on, other countries overthrew the powerhouse. Also, why would the 98 males on the 106-person IOC vote against seeing the likes of Jenny Finch and Kat Osterman competing on the television all summer, throwing fastballs at the equivalent of a 100 mph baseball. As some girls enjoy watching the Patriots for Tom Brady and the Yankees for Derek Jeter, why can guys not enjoy softball for Jenny Finch and Kat Osterman? It is definitely better than watching the weight lifters.

There is hope, though, for baseball and softball in the 2016 Olympics. Since the dreaded 2008 vote which caused baseball and softball to be replaced by golf, there have been events, like the WBC, to give the IOC something to consider. So hopefully in 2016 we can all sit down and enjoy a hot dog and watch baseball and softball, instead of racewalking and equestrian.

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.