Jennie Finch will be in Beijing this August as part of the powerhouse U.S. Olympic softball squad. However, her biggest win may not be in Beijing this year but in Copenhagen in 2009. That’s when the games will be selected for the 2016 Summer Olympics and will be the next opportunity for softball to be an Olympic sport again.
That’s right; softball has joined baseball as persona non grata at the 2012 London Olympics due to their limited world appeal and (in the case of softball) U.S. domination of the sport. The Isle of Great Britain will only have bats swung within its shores in 2012 by soccer hooligans.
Finch has embraced her unofficial ambassadorship of the game:
“Our sport is still a great game. That’s why there’s so much importance going into these 2008 Games to showcase how great our sport is and that it belongs in the Olympics.”
(If Olympic softball strikes out, maybe Jennie can try water sports.)
It will also be a waste of resources and passion if softball does not return to the 2016 Games - if front-runner Chicago does not have the opportunity to enjoy its favorite recreational sport in medal format.
However, if the IOC insists on punishing softball for baseball’s insistence on not sending pros or for its current lopsided competition (not unlike that for basketball 20 years ago), perhaps softball could find a new home for world competition: Bud Selig’s World Baseball Classic.
We grant Selig grudging respect for his relentless shilling for the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2007 and congratulate him for its world popularity. If he wants to grant the tourney a more international feel and broader focus, he might consider pulling the top four or eight softball teams in the world into the festivities.
The women’s game would fold into the men’s game coverage and raise their international profile in baseball-mad countries while Selig gets the Stern-like aura of advancing the women’s game every two years at little additional cost.
Bud, give International Softball Federation chief Don Porter a call and see what the ladies are up to in spring 2009 or 2011. If the IOC wants to play its traditional parochial games, the boys and girls can take their bats and balls and go home, complete with high U.S. ad revenues.