Baseball and the Olympics
When I was told of the International Olympic Commitee’s decision to drop baseball and women?s softball from the Olympics, I was devastated. What a bad move on their part! It is a decision I obviously can not support, or understand.
Baseball is a global sport. Not only have many countries strengthened relations through baseball, people around the world can relate to each other because of baseball. Walter O’Malley sent the Dodgers to Japan in the 1950?s for the sole purpose of building a bridge between the two countries. His son, Peter, carried on that tradition and frequently had teams from around the world play at Dodger Stadium, or train at Dodgertown. In fact, Peter has built fields in Russia, China, Ireland and Nicaragua.
Baseball is also played throughout the world. Here is a partial list of countries that play baseball: the United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, Curacao, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.
When I coached the U.S. Baseball team in the 2000 Olympics, the stands were packed for every game, full of thousands of cheering fans routing for their heroes. I also saw a few softball games and they too were played before large crowds.
While baseball is a cultural melting pot, the IOC removed our game, something that has not been done since 1936. I sincerely hope they review their decision and reconsider the global institution baseball is.
Commissioner Selig once said, ?Baseball is a social institution, and, as such, has social responsibility.? As we all know, baseball helped integrate our country.
Heck, if it weren?t for my time spent playing winter baseball, I would not know how to speak Spanish.
I have also heard the IOC dropped baseball because players on the 40-man roster are not subjected to the same steroid testing other Olympic athletes are. That is not true. Before we left for Sydney, each of my players was tested by Olympic officials, so I think that is a weak argument.
Furthermore, the commissioner is taking the proper steps to strengthen our drug rule, and I am sure he will accomplish his goal by the time the games are played in 2012!