OLYMPIC...

Does Softball Need Its Own Olympics?

Maybe Its Time for Fastpitch to Step Up Its Game Internationally

By TSC Contributor KCSoftball 
 
LOMBARD Softball has the World Cup but it needs to start an "alternate Olympics," some kind of "International World Championships." The event could be held every four years during August for women's & men's teams, moved from country to country, and funded by sponsors to make the "rewards" very high for the teams that take part; maybe paid travel & general expenses or a nice payday for the top three finishers. All the Asian, European & other quality teams could be invited to take part. There are some good teams out there—maybe not of the USA/Japan caliber, but they will only get better if they get to play good teams.  
 
There are around 125 countries (and growing) that play some form of competitive women's fastpitch. Some of the European teams are: Netherlands, Italy, England, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Sweden, Spain and many others. There is also a surprisingly large number of professional teams in Europe, and also a surprisingly large number of American players playing in them, so Japan and the NPF are not the only places to play pro ball!  
 
Closer to home, I have to wonder why Mexico is not competing at a level with the USA Team. There are a lot of high quality Mexican players out there in our Division I schools. England sent a team to last year's World Cup and they played very well—I was impressed with how far they have come. The Netherlands is always good. There are so many good teams throughout the world and they will only get better if they have international competition to play against.  
 
Also, let's make it easier for foreign teams to pick up American players for international competition. I would think the US alone could roster half the teams in the world with quality players if given the chance! Just look at the Women's "Amateur" 23U or Major Team rosters. There are so many quality players out there who would love a chance to play internationally/professionally. Heck, there is enough talent for a full-time eight-team professional league!  
 
I know, I know, the politics of it all will not allow it to happen. Every organization wants to be the top dog and won't give an inch to the others. The Team USA, NCAA, ASA, USSSA, and IOC all want to be in charge and won't give a millimeter to make it work. But as they say, "Young men have visions, old men dream dreams," so (given my age) my vision for women's fastpitch is allowed to fall into the dream category.  
 
Lastly, softball in the Olympics is a moneymaker—it always sells out its stadium for games. The television ratings were also very good, so lack of revenue is not a reason for dropping softball.  
 
What is the real reason for the elimination of softball from Olympic competition? The head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, had a large disagreement with Major League Baseball, and baseball & softball are thought of as the same sport by him. He waged a campaign to get rid of these sports thinking he would get back at the MLB, but he didn't. Instead he punished all the baseball/softball-playing countries. MLB couldn't care less about the Olympics!  
 
Thankfully, Rogge will be replaced later this year. Hopefully the new IOC President will look more favorably on softball. Read more.

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