Friday, July 08, 2005

SI.com - Writers - Brian Cazeneuve: Why baseball was cut from the Games - Friday July 8, 2005 12:41PM

A sure fire way to get attention as a US jorno-scribbler is to squeak 'anti-americanism' whenever something happens in the world that is not understood.

The IOC just voted to cut baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics. These sports are mostly played in the US. There are legues in some other countries but these are distant cousins to the NBA. Anti-Americanism? Well not really, in fact rather the opposite in some ways.

The first problem is that the whole point of the olympics is that the sports should be global and not national. Baseball has an international following but nowhere near as big a following as cricket which is the national sport of the UK, India, Pakistan, Australia, the Caribean and is played in significant parts of Africa as well.

The second problem is that the US clearly has most of the best players in the world but did not qualify for the Athens baseball tournament. No baseball player would rank playing in that olympic tournament to be the equal of making the league playoffs in the NBA, let alone the world series. When the olympic qualifying tournament was held the US sent a team of second string players who got beaten. The IOC does not want to hold a second rate tournament in a sport where the best players don't take part.

The final nail was that there are several sports that would like to be added to the Olympic program that can only be added if an existing sport is dropped. These include golf, rugby and squash. It is pretty clear that the number of people who are going to be willing to pay to see Tiger Woods and co play an olympic match is going to be much bigger than the number of people who want to see a baseball final between Canada and Japan.

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