Op Ed -- Why Baseball, Softball Will Strengthen the Olympic Movement

(ATR) World Baseball Softball Confederation co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter explain why their sports belong in the Olympics in the latest Around the Rings Op Ed.

International Softball Federation (ISF) president Don Porter (R) announces ISF and International Baseball Federation will form a joint body World Baseball Softball Confederation in Tokyo on April 14, 2013, while International Baseball Federation president Riccardo Fraccari  looks on. The new body will start a campaign to rejoin the Olympic Games in 2020.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO        (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
International Softball Federation (ISF) president Don Porter (R) announces ISF and International Baseball Federation will form a joint body World Baseball Softball Confederation in Tokyo on April 14, 2013, while International Baseball Federation president Riccardo Fraccari looks on. The new body will start a campaign to rejoin the Olympic Games in 2020. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Enhancing the Global Appeal of the Olympic Programme

Baseball and Softball will bring new and unique bat-and-ball sports currently not on the Olympic Programme.

WBSC will deliver not one but two tournaments within one compact shared venue.

Selecting Baseball/Softball will diversify, balance and enhance the overall Olympic experience.

Popularity

With 65+ million athletes in 140+ countries and 150+ million fans filling venues worldwide, driving record ticket sales and revenues in 2012, our sport is among the most popular in the world (among both male and female audiences) and the most followed not under the Olympic umbrella.

Adding Baseball/Softball will attract those who play or follow our sport to follow and identify with the Olympic Games.

Women in Sport/Gender Equity

Baseball/Softball will further encourage and promote women’s participation in sport across all levels.

Adding a sport that women like to play, like softball, will give women more opportunities to be empowered through sport, helping to create Games that are more relevant to women.

Softball will provide new pathways for more women to participate in sport, including Muslim and other cultures where softball is increasingly popular as a non-contact team sport, with a dress code and rules that can be easily adapted for girls and young women from all backgrounds and faiths.

Identifying with Olympic softballers will inspire future generations of girls to take an early interest in Olympism and sport, and this will help sustain the Movement.

Youth

Baseball/Softball connect with young people everywhere and today’s youth culture.

The combination of millions of boys and girls playing Baseball/Softball is one of our biggest strengths. They make baseball and softball appealing, giving our sport high-potential for the Youth Olympic Games.

Our sport appeals to youth and parents because it’s non-violent; there’s always a role on the team for every sized athlete and skill-level. Baseball/Softball are easy to learn and can be played almost anywhere.

The social, physical and leadership skills boys and girls develop through the practice of baseball/softball transfers to other areas, in school and in society.

WBSC’s vision is to put Baseball/Softball’s growth and resources at the service of the Olympic Movement to advance the Sport For All initiative of giving access and the benefit of sport to every boy and girl in the world, placing sport at the service of humanity.

National Team Sport

WBSC will deliver a team sport to the Games.

Athletes who typically compete against each other on clubs outside the Olympics can unite to represent their countries, which is the highest honour for any athlete.

Baseball/Softball can capture the attention of entire nations, as seen with the recent broadcast records that were set and large audiences during this year’s World Baseball Classic. This will help spread the Games and maintain a high level of international spirit.

Universality: Investment/Global Expansion to 2020 and beyond

WBSC will help to deliver greater security and long-term viability: Baseball/Softball, especially national team competitions,are growing in universality and attraction across all media platforms and with sponsors, broadcasters, fans and hosts.

Our athletes from U12 to the professional level and NFs all want more international Baseball and Softball.The youth and professional leagues are supporting the bid. Resources are being poured into international development.New venues are being constructed or renovated in Africa, across the Americas, in Asia, Europe and Oceania, also benefiting local economies.

We are growing our sport together for our athletes, toward 2020 and for the Olympic Movement.

The IOC will select either baseball/softball, squash, or wrestling for a spot on the 2020 Olympic Program at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires this September.

Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter are Co-Presidents of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

Op Ed is a column of opinion and ideas from Around the Rings. Comments, as well as guest columns are welcomed: comment@aroundtherings.com20 Years at #1: