on Sports
IOC Pitches Softball


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman

    Baseball, we expected. Softball, we didn’t .
The I.O.C. hasn’t dropped a Summer Games sport in 69 years. On July 8th, they kicked baseball and softball out of the 2012 games. If you wish to call Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland, and protest, dial 4121-621-6111.  

Like we expected, Baseball was ripe for the tossing. Baseball was like stale bathwater, foaming with all kinds of problems from the Jose Canseco factor to it’s long professional season not exactly stepping aside for the Olympics. But tossing Softball is like tossing out the baby. You don’t want to see a fresh, warm, cuddly little sport with no druggies hitting the street. You want to nurture Softball. You want to grab Jennie Finch by her sunny dimples, give her a good squeeze, break out the talcum powder and…. (sorry, carried away).
Olympics Pitches Softball
It makes you want to call all fourteen members of the executive committee, which by the way, includes one American – James Easton – and only one woman – Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden – which might be part of the problem, and ask “Why softball?”

One of the reasons given is, if you drop a sport, you drop it’s male and female equivalent. Pro Baseball’s drug testing was never going to rise to Olympic standards and the biggest rap on Softball was the Americans were TOO dominant. It doesn’t matter that Don Porter, president of the International Softball Federation, says “Too many people think we’re part of baseball. We’re absolutely not and we tried to keep our distance.” The second reason given for dropping the sports was that it is too expensive to build stadiums customized for only baseball and softball. I say, if you call the Olympic Committee – 4121-621-6111 – just tell them, that may be so for baseball, but a softball compound is relatively inexpensive. When they argue with you just say there’s a huge softball compound in Oklahoma City and everyone knows Oklahoma doesn’t have Olympic type money. And then when they keep arguing with you, just say a softball stadium doesn’t have to take up much space because the gals can’t hit it that far and besides, Jenny Finch or Cat Osterman will be striking everybody out so you don’t have to locate the fence that far away from home plate.  

If anybody could have saved baseball and softball, it should have been James Easton, a vice-president of I.O.C. He, as CEO of Easton Sporting Goods, has a huge financial stake in the two sports. For one, Easton makes aluminum sporting goods products – hockey sticks, skiing poles, arrow shafts and baseball bats. They may be the largest aluminum ball bat manufacturer. James, himself, is an expert archer, accurate at long ranges. We feel certain, James, had he wished to be wearing gloves so as to not leave finger prints on the arrow shafts, could have eliminated certain members of the voting committee and saved the sports. And just so everyone’s clear, we’re talking tranquilizer arrows, not anything that causes long term harm. The opportunity may not have availed itself so we don’t want to say Easton didn’t do everything possible.   

Which countries does this hurt the most, in terms of fan excitement, television revenue and growth in the sport? That’s easy -- Cuba and Japan for baseball and the USA for softball. The saddest thing in this whole event – considering the I.O.C. has had it’s share of corruption scandals in the last few years was that the voting on dropping teams was done in secret.  Even with their cover story being to not slight some of the sports that barely made the cut, it still makes you want to call Switzerland 4121-621-6111. If you reach them, ask if they know someone who can fix my watch.   
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