Softball's Olympic Future is Looking Up

Sport Added to Short List for Inclusion in 2020 Games

By TSC Contributor KAYLA KNIGHT 
LOMBARD For three long years the softball community has mourned the loss of its beloved sport from the Olympic Games, clinging to the hope that one day it will return. But when? 
Re-entry dates of 2012 and 2016 have already been eliminated, but a faint heartbeat was heard for the turn of the decade when, last month, softball was added to the short list of sports considered for the 2020 Olympics. 
While this news was huge, the chances of softball’s reinstatement are still about the same as hitting a home run off a Monica Abbott fastball. 
First, softball must beat out the seven other sports being considered by the International Olympic Committee: karate, roller sports, sports climbing, squash, wakeboard, wushu and baseball. 
Second, the members of the IOC—and especially president Jacques Rogge—will need a valid reason to reverse their earlier decision to eliminate it from the Games. 
According to former Olympian Jessica Mendoza, it will take Rogge’s departure to get the job done. That could happen in 2013 when his term expires, although the timing will be close. The IOC meets September 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to select the one sport to be added to the 2020 program. 
At minimum, the International Softball Federation will need to prove to the IOC that softball has become more globally popular than in 2005, when it was first voted out—a distinct possibility given Japan’s increasing competitiveness against the once-dominant USA. However, in most countries softball’s removal from the Olympics and the sputtering world economy have virtually dried up funding for the sport. 
Yes, there is still much to be done, but softball’s Olympic future is looking up. After all, every so often someone hits a home run off a Monica Abbott fastball. Read more.