Softball Responds to Olympic Setback

By Staff

Coaching Management, 13.9, October 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/cm/cm1309/bbsetback.htm

This summer, the softball community was dealt a crushing blow when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced its decision to oust the sport from the summer games beginning in 2012. Baseball and softball failed to receive a majority of votes, becoming the first events dropped from the games in 69 years.

“We’re very disappointed by the outcome of the vote,” says Don Porter, President of the International Softball Federation (ISF). “I think the IOC made a mistake in not fully recognizing the extent to which softball has developed and how it’s being played around the world.”

As one example of growth, Porter points to softball’s inclusion in the World University Games for the first time in 2007. Held every two years by the International University Sports Federation, the summer games are scheduled to take place in Bangkok, Thailand in 2007. Talks to add softball began two years ago, when the ISF offered to host the first World University Softball Championships at its headquarters in Plant City, Fla.

Held in October 2004, the first World University Softball Championships included athletes from around the globe, with past Olympians peppering teams from Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Guatemala, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. After five days of competition, the USA Elite team, which included players from seven NCAA Division I institutions, won the gold medal in a closely fought 1-0 final against Chinese Taipei.

The second World University Softball Championships will be help in Tainan, Taiwan, in July 2006. To qualify for USA Softball’s Elite Team, athletes must have been born between Jan. 1, 1978 and Dec. 31, 1988. Players may be invited to one of three tryout sessions held each year, where they will be evaluated and selected by USA Softball’s National Team Selection Committee.

“The ’04 championships were a good opportunity for our athletes,” says USA Elite Team Head Coach Jay Miller, who is also Head Coach at Mississippi State University. “Although being dropped from the Olympics will have an effect on the goals and aspirations of college players, the college game is still very strong and will continue to be. The international softball community is working very hard to have the game reinstated, and I think we’ll be back for the 2016 Olympics.”

As Porter continues to lobby the IOC to change its mind for 2016, he believes the success of events like the World University Softball Championships will only help. “We have a lot of major events coming up which will showcase the success of softball,” says Porter. “We just have to regroup and work toward getting softball back on the Olympic program. We’re hopeful this is just a temporary setback. Softball will go on.”

For more information about the World University Softball Championships, visit:
USA Softball: www.usasoftball.com
International Softball Federation: www.internationalsoftball.com
International University Sports Federation: www.fisu.net