Sports for 2016: Softball

(ATR) Softball federation leaders say the success of the sport at the Olympics in Beijing  should be a factor the IOC  considers for softball's  return to the Olympic program. Softball and six other sports hoping to win a place in the 2016 Games will make their case this week at a meeting of the IOC Program Commission.

BEIJING - AUGUST 21:  Megu Hirose #8 of Japan slides into home safely as catcher Stacey Nuveman of the United States drops the ball during the women's grand final gold medal softball game at the Fengtai Softball Field during Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
BEIJING - AUGUST 21: Megu Hirose #8 of Japan slides into home safely as catcher Stacey Nuveman of the United States drops the ball during the women's grand final gold medal softball game at the Fengtai Softball Field during Day 13 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 21, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Japan won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing (Getty Images) (ATR) Softball federation leaders say the success of the sport at the Olympics in Beijingshould bea factorthe IOC considers forsoftball's return to the Olympic program.Softball and six other sports hoping to win a place in the 2016 Games willmake their case this week at a meeting of the IOC Program Commission.

Softball is represented by the International Softball Federation (ISF), which has its headquarters in Plant City, Fla. ISF membership includes 131 national federations, with more than 8.4 million participants worldwide.

President of the ISF is Don Porter. Secretary General is Andrew Loechner and Director General is Tamara Malikoff.

Important nations for the sport include Australia, Canada, China, Japan and the United States. Japan won gold for the first time in Beijing.

Softball has been a part of the Olympics since its debut at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, but the sport was removed from the London 2012 program at the IOC Session in Singapore in July, 2005, just one vote shy of staying in the Olympics.

The ISF have created a special Back Softball campaign to return the sport to the Olympic program at the 2016 Games.A campaign blueprint features 10 steps to enhance the sport’s appeal.Increasing the number of nations playing the sport, the number of worldwide participants as well as attracting more young people, are among the goals.The blueprint also emphasizes the ISF’s commitment to increase the exposure of softball on television worldwide and provide equipment Softball has been a part of every Olympics since the 1996 Games in Atlanta. (Getty Images)and coaching where needed.

The ISF’s pitch to the commission will be led by President Don Porter. Joining him are ISF Vice-President for North America Dale McMann and co-chair of the Back Softball taskforce, Low Beng Choo, the federation’s Malaysia-based deputy secretary general and Donna De Varona, 1964 Olympian in swimming and the first president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.Athlete representation will come from Beijing Olympic stars Saskia Kosterink of the Netherlands and Rubilena Rojas of Venezuela.

The federation website is www.internationalsoftball.com.

Written by Greg Oshust.