Reinstatement of Softball Into the 2016 Olympics
“PLAY BALL!! ” This is a saying that has been used for many years in softball as well as in baseball. Now, those two words will not be heard in the Olympics for at least half a decade. Softball is a big part in the lives of many women and taking it out of the 2012 Olympics is crushing their dreams. The sport should be reinstated in the 2016 Olympics because the sport will die if it is not, it gives young girls a dream, and it will greatly decrease the amount of women participating in the Olympic Games. Softball has been in the Olympics since 1996 and now the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to take it out.
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Taking softball out of the Olympics cut the amount of funding to the USA team which means that they are not able to tour as long or play as many games. An online article titled “USA softball Faces Precarious Future without Olympics” proves this by stating the following; “losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from the U. S. Olympic Committee means a limited travel schedule, less time to practice and no stipends that would allow players to give up every day jobs” (Associated press 1). If players cannot give up their every day jobs, then they will get too caught up with them and end up giving up the sport permanently.
Jay Miller, U. S. head coach, says that “[i]n the past, out Olympic years especially, kids could make a pretty good living playing for the national team, where now they cannot” (Associated Press 1). With softball not being an Olympic sport it will not be easy to stick around just because you have a deep love for it. Ron Radigonda, the executive director of the Amateur Softball Association that runs USA softball, says that having “that Olympic program just [brings it] to the next level” (Associated Press 1). Cooke states that “[t]aking softball out of the Olympics really hurt the sport.
There are a ton of talented girls with no place to go. College softball truly is the last real stop for these girls” (Cooke 1). Without being an Olympic sport then the sport as we know it now will become dead. When the IOC took softball out of the Olympics they never took all of this into consideration. Even without the Olympics, the U. S. softball team still has the world cup, the Canada Cup, and two months of tour dates. There are a few professional teams including the four-team National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) and the touring Pro Fastpitch X-treme (PFX), and in Japan.
In an interview with Meagan Denny, a former Texas Longhorn Pitcher and an active member of the PFX tour team, she stated “I definitely think softball will survive. I actually think it has gotten more popular since professional softball has taken off. Olympic players are actually quitting the USA team to play pro ball” (Denny). People, like Meagan Denny, who dedicate their lives to softball, can probably live the life on the low income that is made from the pro teams. Denny sates that “[as a pro softball player] we cannot make a living off of playing.
The PFX gets paid per tour stop; the NPF gets paid a salary for the summer… I get paid just a little more on the tour than I would in the NPF. I also get to live where I want and travel to our destination on the tour. If I were in the NPF I would have to quit my job for the summer to live where ever my team is” (Denny). Meagan gets to play pro softball for the PFX tour team and still have a career at the same time. True softball fans will still follow these teams no matter the time of day of the events. Every little girl that picks up a softball wants to be known as something great.
Since softball does not have a professional league like baseball, the Olympics are all we as softball players have. The way softball can survive without being an Olympic sport is if people with huge hearts for the game never die out. Now that the Olympics have taken out softball, the girl who picks up her bat, helmet, glove and softball is not going to have much of a future in something she loves. A star is born in to the world of softball every year, and now that girl will never know what it will be like to represent her country in the highest level of competition there is.
Jenae Leles, USA softball women’s national team rookie says “it [is] a lot of young girls’ dream to play softball further than college and into the Olympics. [She] thinks they do need to get it back so the young girls can pursue their dreams. They need to get it back for them” (Players Dream). The Olympics tied softball with baseball together and they thought it would be a good decision, but what they didn’t put into perspective was that baseball has the major league that pays their players millions of dollars a year and softball does not.
They also should have put into perspective how they crushed so many hopes and dreams. The International Olympic Committee had no idea what they were doing when they made the vote to cut the sport; they were just thinking that it would be good for the Olympics to have something new. Now, because the IOC did not take the millions of girls around the world’s dreams in to consideration, they have broken these girls’ hearts. The International Olympic Committee was just trying to do the best to keep the Olympics interesting.
The IOC thought that since softball has the PFX and NPF leagues then the young girls will have a dream of playing for them instead of for the Olympics team. Denny states that “these girls have a better shot at playing after college now. Before, with just an Olympic team and no pro teams the chances of these girls making the USA team were slim to none. Now with it out, the focus is on the Pro leagues and their chances to play ball for money are much higher” (Denny). I think that in their minds they were thinking that since America was so dominant that it was time to cut softball and let another sport have a chance.
Denny thinks “the USA is on a much higher level than everyone else. Japan is the only competition we need to really worry about. Australia and Canada might get lucky once in a while but otherwise, USA is way too dominant right now for it to be a fair fight” (Denny). Not only does taking softball out of the Olympics hurt the United States, it also hurts Japan. Tsutomu Hayashi, the Japan Olympic Committee secretary general, said that the sports “draw a lot of excitement and are the only ones that medals are a virtual certainty” (New York Times).
I do not think that in the process of voting they thought of the chance it would let down millions of young women. Samantha Cooke from Bleacher Report states that “taking softball out of the Olympics really hurt the sport. There are a ton of talented girls with no place to go. College softball truly is the last real stop for [those] girls” (Cooke 1). I think now that girls do not have a big future in softball they will go to other sports that are still in the Olympics, like basketball or gymnastics. What will the committee do when those sports become to dominate?
Will they cut them too like they did with softball? Will they crush all those little girls’ dreams too? Cutting softball not only decreased to amount of young girl’s dreams, but the amount of women athletes competing in the games. The Olympics have eight softball teams facing off each other in the Games. From associated content Krystal Weeden states that “each of these softball teams [have] about 15-20 players, which means that now 120-160 [women] players will not be able to perform at this level again” (Weeden 1).
Women only account for 41% of the Olympic Athletes. There are 26 women Olympic sports compared to 27 men Olympic sports. This does not seem like to much, but that one game could host hundreds of male athletes. Alison Sawyer reports that, “women are significantly underrepresented in the Olympic Games, comprising 4,306 or 41% of the 10,568 participants in the Athens Games” (Swayer 1). Less than half of the Olympic athletes are women. I feel that the Olympics should put softball back in as a women sport only to make to game count evenly.
As Billie Jean King, women’s sports foundation founder and honorary chair states, “this is not about softball [t]he fact is that women are underrepresented in the Olympic Games and any action to further reduce these opportunities in any sport is discrimination” (Sawyer 1). The Olympic committee was not worried about how many women play in the games. They were just worried about getting people to watch the Games on television or in real life. “The first time women competed at the Olympic Games was in 1900 in Paris.
The first women to take part in the Olympic occurred on June 28, 1900 in the croquet event” (Olympic Firsts). When people talk about the Olympics they usually are talking about the men’s side of the sports. When it comes to the men’s side of the games they do show faster times and better performances. There are a ton of women that are amazing at the sport they play but you usually do not hear about them very often, because there are guys that do way better in the male version of the games. Softball is the only women sport there is where there is no comparison.
Yes, there is baseball but if you really break the two sports down you will see that baseball and softball are tremendously different. For instances, the bases in softball are closer so we, as women, have to react quicker to get the opponent out. Whereas, in baseball their bases are placed way farther so they have a ton of time to get the ball to first base for the out. Each sport has a version for guys but when you look at the times or performance of the guys versus the girls there is just no comparison.
For the 2004 Olympic track and field’s average difference was “[a]bout 10% in speed events, and about 15% in strength events” (Vaughn’s Summaries). People think, and will always think, that a man can do anything better than a woman just because he is a male. In some cases that is true, but it is not true in all cases. It is not fair to have unequal number of men and women athletes. I understand that the Olympics are just trying to let the athletes compete, but they need to worry more about being equal men to women ratio.
Softball should be reinstated, in the 2016 Olympics, for the young girls around the world who picked up their first softball and wanted to become famous; it will equal out the men to women athlete ratio more and it will keep the sport, that a bunch of young women love, alive and thriving. Softball is a sport that is well deserving of being an Olympic sport. Softball had everything that an Olympic sport should. These are just a few examples of the many reasons for why softball should be brought back to the Olympics.