As someone who has loved baseball and softball for the last 20 years, the years since 2005 have been incredibly challenging. July 11th 2005 was the day on which the IOC announced that Baseball and Softball wouldn’t return to the Olympic games after the 2008 edition in Beijing.

Then came along the assignment of the Olympic games to Tokyo in 2020. Baseball and Softball would return to the Olympics. Finally! After a hiatus of 12 years we’d once again have the opportunity to prove to the world that we belong at this celebration of great sports.

The only hiccup though was that “diamond sports” were given this opportunity thanks to the rule which stipulates that every organizing country is allowed to assign two sports to the program of the Olympics. Baseball and Softball were the choices of Japan, where these games are part of their national pastime. Knowing this, our community knew that it was highly improbable that these same sports would be present at the Games of 2024 in Paris, but the hope was there. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when it was announced that breakdancing would be part of the 2024 program, taking the spot that is occupied by Softball for 2020.

Within my circles this has lead to a discussion as to which sports are truly “Olympic”, and which would make us cringe if they one day were assigned. I’ve had multiple discussions about this with my friends, one of which stated that according to him the Olympics should be focused on athletics, and stick to the origins of the games when they were first organized in ancient Greece. I argued against this, since I believe Olympic gold medals are the most valued recognition any athlete can obtain in most sports.

Yes, you read that right, MOST sports. Because for one of my beloved two diamond sports this is not the highest achievable honor. In Baseball the absolute pinnacle of achievement is winning the World Series, the championship for North American based teams adhering to Major League Baseball (MLB). As long as the MLB doesn’t make its athletes available to participation to the Olympic games I don’t see baseball ever truly becoming an Olympic sport, since the crème de la crème won’t be participating.

However, this is not the case for Softball. The absolute dream for anybody active in Softball is to go to the Olympic games, and vie for any of those three medals. Each country will send their absolute best athletes without a shadow of a doubt. Also because the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) organization won’t refrain from sending their prized players. Personally I’m convinced that the NPF cares about spreading the game as much as anybody, since Softball is perennially in danger.

However here we touch back on the argument that Olympic gold is the most valued price for most sports. Truth is that the Olympics in their current structure just simply can’t accommodate all the sports which would give an arm and a leg to participate in them. So would the answer be in restructuring the games?

A different friend of mine proposed this a couple of days ago to me. His idea would be to organize separate events for individual sports, team sports, and modern sports. This idea is intriguing to me, though I don’t know how hard I’d argue for it. Part of the allure of the Olympics is that it’s exclusive, and that only the absolute best get to compete against each other. Would expanding the Games like this not defy this concept? And what about the interval with which these separate games would be organized? Would we have three separate events each four years, or would we have a separate Olympic event every year? This would mean that we’d have three summer years followed by a winter year. I.E. one Olympic tournament every year. This would probably help defy that idea of exclusivity I just talked about, since we would have a surplus of Olympic tournaments.

It’s safe to say I don’t have any solutions here, and I don’t have any serious suggestions. However I’d argue for this. Nothing feels as good as realizing a dream. We all want to reach the pinnacle of our chosen profession. Let’s try to have any sport for which physical and emotional sacrifices have to be made, and which is willing to send its absolute best athletes to the Olympics have a place on these tournaments. Maybe it would be an idea to have the sports rotate, and have them recur once every eight years (once in every athlete’s career).

As said, I don’t have any solutions, just one opinion: Currently several sports which are worthy of participating in the Olympics are excluded, and depending on your definition of which sports should be included, some that are “not worthy” are included (I’m looking at you Olympic football). Let’s combine our collective brain power to find a solution so we can balance all this out.


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