Baseball is not an Olympic sport and yet trampolining and speed walking are? Since when do legitimate sports take the backseat to hobbies?
On July 7, 2005, the International Olympic Committee voted baseball and softball out of the Olympics, stating that not enough countries were participating in this sport. In a comment to MLB.com, IOC head Jacques Rogge said, “To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”
No offense to Mr. Rogge, but how can you rule that baseball is not a universal sport? There are 16 countries that participated in the baseball competition at the Olympics, and while that may not be very much when compared to categories such as swimming or track and field, it is enough to have a well rounded and worthy competition for the gold. Moreover, while baseball is well-recognized as a legitimate and professional sport, “sports” like speed walking and trampolining are seen as recreational hobbies and not Olympic worthy events.
Yet, to my dismay along with many others, trampolining and speed walking are in the Olympics. In fact, speed walking, or race walking as it is called, has been a part of the Olympics since 1904 while trampolining is relatively new as it’s only been a sport in the Olympics since 2000.
How is it that these two sports, both of which have a short history in comparison to the history of baseball, are included in the Olympics and baseball is voted out? Not to offend those who actually enjoy watching these sports, but I do not believe for one second that race walking has a bigger following than baseball. Nor do I believe that trampolining brings in more viewers than baseball.
The Olympics have always been about historical games; sports that have been a major part of a country’s traditions and athletic history. So how is it that baseball is not a part of these historical games?
Since April 1, 2011, the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation have been working on a joint proposal to revive play of both sports. Hopefully, the IOC will make the right decision and let this historical and traditional sport play out in the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Baseball is not an Olympic Sport but Trampolining and Speed Walking Are?