The Summer Olympics are almost over, but I am still wishing that there was one more competition. I wish that they would reinstate Olympic baseball and softball.
I know that we now have the World Baseball Classic, and I think that that is a fine competition. However, the Olympics are the largest competition in the world, and baseball in particular is actually becoming more competitive around the world.
According to an Associated Press report published on NBC Sports in 2005, there were concerns that baseball and softball were not international enough to merit inclusion in the program.
Americans did utterly dominate softball, but there are other sports where certain nations dominate, and that is normally celebrated. For example, in women’s gymnastics, you know that the United States, Russia, China and Romania will dominate. In basketball from both genders, you know that Team USA always has the upper hand. In diving, China has the best program in the world.
I’m not complaining about any of these sports or saying that they should be dropped as well, but just because one team is exceptionally good doesn’t mean that the entire sport should be dropped.
Baseball is even more perplexing because there was not necessarily a dominant team.
In the five Olympics that included baseball on the program, Cuba won three gold medals, the United States won one gold medal and South Korea won one gold medal.
You didn’t necessarily see domination like you did in softball by any one nation.
Also, baseball is growing around the globe. In particular, Asian countries have been becoming more and more interested in the American pastime, and, as evidenced by the gold-medal winning team from South Korea in 2008, they are becoming very competitive.
One major complaint has been the absence of MLB players. Of course, the Summer Olympics fall right in the middle of baseball season, and the MLB has not shown any interest in allowing players to compete. I think that that is a debate for a different time, but I have to admit that that doesn’t bother me at all.
The Olympics were originally an amateur competition, and even though I do realize that other professionals from other countries were playing the Olympics, it still seemed a little bit more amateur without all of the MLB superstars in it. For the record, I do like the idea of keeping the Olympics an amateur competition, but that is also a topic for a different time.
Perhaps we will eventually see baseball returned to the Olympic program, but I have to admit that I did miss watching one of the greatest sports in the world on a worldwide stage.