Sunday, March 1, 2009

Softball's Chances in 2016

Softball is a sport that is very near and dear to my heart, having played for almost twenty years and a dozen or more of those in an intensely competitive environment. It is one of the fastest growing sports for women in North America and has even developed a following in Australia, Europe and Asia.

The sport has helped shaped me as a person, and given me lifelong friends. Softball is so important to me that my first book features an Olympic hopeful, highlighting the amazing oportunities the sport has opened up for girls all over North American and increasingly, the world. Softball provides college scholarships throughout the US and Canada. There are even professional U.S. leagues that elite players can make a living in.

And yet, there will be no softball at the 2012 games in London, England. Sadly, the 2008 Beijing Olympic games may be the last time we see softball in the Olympics, having been voted out by the IOC due to a perceived lack of competition with the dominant U.S. team. In fact, Japan's gold medal victory over the US team may be the best thing that ever happened to women's fast pitch, because it shows that other countries are putting substantial resources into their softball programs.

This October, the IOC will again be voting on whether to include softball in the 2016 games. The sport is vying for one of two spots, against squash, baseball, karate, rugby, golf and roller sports. The general opinion out there is that softball has about a one in two chance of being reinstated. Let's hope the IOC members will be better educated and informed about the sport of softball, and how important it is in the sporting world.

Keep your fingers crossed!