Wednesday, August 27, 2008

OK, I'll talk about softball

Every day during the Olympics I saw articles about the exit of softball from the Olympics. I have written about it before here. But I am a little bit tired of the discussion. And I am also feeling a little bit jaded and there's even a little bit of schadenfreude.
But just a little. I am disappointed softball will not be around for London. I like softball. I try to catch collegiate games during the spring. I watch the College World Series every June.
But I have some problems with the image that softball tries to portray. Or more to the point--how they femme it up. Part of this process is the way softball ties itself to baseball. In addition to the fact that several players date or are married to baseball players--which gets a lot of play in the media--softball has positioned itself as the female equivalent of baseball. When asked who their favorite players are, many give the names of professional baseball players.
So when you tie yourself to a men's sport and that men's sport has some issues with the IOC (doping and the release of MLB players for the Olympics) and you get taken down with them, I don't have a whole lot of sympathy. (Well, I have a little, because I am sure many think there wasn't much choice in the whole thing.)
This USA Today article, which features a picture of a quite despondent US team with silver medals around their necks, notes that softball and baseball are working independently to get reinstated for the 2016 games. They may come together to argue that they only need one stadium for both events.
This editorial out of Japan, which now has even more incentive to also fight for reinstatement as the reigning gold medalists, actively blames baseball for bringing down softball and thinks MLB should give money to the International Softball Federation, which will lose a significant amount of its funding when the IOC cuts it off.
I don't have any predictions for how this fight will be resolved. At this point, I think it could go either way for softball. Not much help, though, for most of the silver medalists who, even if the sport returns in 2016, won't be participating.

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