London 2012: Top 6 Reasons Baseball Should Return to the Olympics
The International Olympic Committee voted baseball out of the 2012 London Olympics on July 7th in 2005. The consequences of this vote led to 16 teams and 300 players being eliminated from competing for their nations, as well as making baseball the first sport to be excised from the Olympics since polo in 1936.
Despite the decisions of the Olympic Committee, baseball should be a sport included in the Olympics for years to come.
Baseball Makes Way for Softball
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There is no doubt that softball and its players have been hurt tremendously in the Olympic Committee's decision to eliminate baseball from the Olympics. Many of the main reasons for the elimination stemmed from Major League Baseball and the uneasy relationship with the IOC.
In the United States, there is a lack of professional softball and the Olympics were an event that hundreds of women trained for with hopes of making the Olympic team. Now, many of these women only have the chance to compete in much smaller and less public events that lack the pride and glory of the Olympics.
With many of these Olympic hopefuls stemming from colleges, the IOC has struck a nerve with the youthful players who often dedicated countless hours in preparation to represent their nation.
If baseball were to once again be added to the Olympics, then softball would most certainly follow suit. Thousands of women across the globe would once again be able to compete and be rewarded for their lives of hard work and training.
Drug Testing Has Improved
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Although never officially stated, the MLB's slow adoption of drug testing was a leading cause leading to the decision to eliminate baseball from the Olympics.
Since the vote in 2005 by the Olympic Committee to remove the sport, Major League Baseball has started to vastly improve its procedures and punishments for drug abusers. Players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have found themselves inside of court rooms stemming from their use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Lists like the Mitchell Report have turned baseball upside down, but have shown the world that the MLB will no longer tolerate those receiving and unfair advantage.
There are still improvements to be made, which can be seen in the recent decision of overturning allegations against professional baseball player Ryan Braun. Due to a technicality, Braun escaped the grasp of a 50-game suspension and a tarnished image as an undeserving Most Valuable Player.
Nonetheless, the system has continued to grow and catch up with the rest of the baseball world. Baseball has evolved since 2005, and the Olympic Committee should now take this into consideration and allow baseball to once again be an Olympic sport.
Pausing the MLB
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Another determining factor in eliminated baseball from the Olympics was the MLB's refusal to pause the season and allow its players from numerous countries compete.
While the MLB does represent the world's most talented players, their absence is hardly a reason the International Olympic Committee should have considered when voting out baseball—especially since the issue is mainly only involved in the United States.
Many other countries such as Cuba and Japan allow many of their professional players compete and have been unfairly eliminated from competing in the Olympics solely because of issues present in a single country. The number of professional athletes participating for these countries far outweighs those not competing within the United States.
For this reason, the IOC should show sympathy and consideration for other countries in which Olympic baseball play a much greater role.
World Baseball Classic
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Since its creation in 2006, the World Baseball Classic has helped develop popularity of baseball around the world. The same can be done with the Olympics.
Fans sharing nationalities with teams like Cuba, South Korea, Japan, United States, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have flocked around television sets, stadiums, stores and other gathering places to support their nation. The success of the WBC is a strong example supporting the cause for allowing baseball to be played on the much larger, international and Olympic stage.
The main detriment is the difficulty of receiving players from Major League Baseball and Asian leagues to participate in the Olympics, as the WBC has found ways to work around the grueling schedules.
In the past, the United States has used amateur and college players to form their rosters, much like was done in other sports—most notably hockey, in which the United States won the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Comparing hockey to baseball is difficult, but the theory that college players and amateurs had the ability to compete with the best teams in the world proves that the lack of professional players will in no way affect a nation's ability to compete.
Baseball is no different, as future professionals will have the ability to compete and the Olympics can find success, just as the World Baseball Classic has.
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In recent years, international competition has given players opportunities not available where they currently play.
Most recently, the Oakland Athletics signed the Cuban Yoenis Cespedes to a multiple-year deal worth $36 million. Cespedes was brought to international spotlight during the World Baseball Classic with his unbelievable performance during the tournament.
The Olympics would annually have the same effect, as some of the world's lesser-known talents would be put on display and given the chance to take advantage of the vast attention received. International professional players as well as amateurs would benefit around the world if baseball were to be included in the Olympics.
Baseball Has Changed and Will Continue to Adapt
At a press conference in Havana, Cuba, Ricardo Fraccari, president of the International Baseball Federation, openly discussed the plans for baseball to regain its place in the Olympics and Luis Lopez Viera reported his comments.
The battle for the return to the Olympic program will be tough, but we are on track. So far, all the professional organizations have confirmed their accord that their best players participate in the Games. We are also complying with the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency. For a long time, baseball was very reluctant to change its rules and became a very conservative sport. That's also conspired against us a bit.
Clearly, baseball around the world has tried to adapt the the Olympics' policies and standards, and has done so successfully thus far. Despite this, the Olympic Committee has still determined to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2016 games in Berlin.
From Japan to the United States, professional organizations continue to adopt new policies and adapt to become a part of the Olympics again, and the committee must forget about recent grudges and reconsider baseball as an Olympic sport.