Every now and then, I make mention of a good (or a bad, but entertaining) conversation I hear on sports radio.
I recently heard a discussion about the withdrawal of baseball from the Olympics, starting in 2012. One conclusion the show’s host and guest came to was that baseball was being pulled, because the world’s best players are unable to play-therefore, baseball no longer has the star power or the drawing power of sports such as basketball and soccer.
I understand why the best players in the world aren’t playing. The Major League Baseball season is going on (and isn’t even close to finishing), and unlike basketball and soccer, the MLB does not have strong European competitors. However, we’re talking about the Olympics. This is the opportunity for the best athletes in the world to be on a stage larger than those in the normal leagues. Soccer teams understand this concept, as players often leave their local teams to represent their national teams. Basketball teams understand this, as NBA players take time out of their summer-training programs to train with national teams. The National Hockey League certainly understands this, as it puts the league schedule on hold while the winter games take place.
I guess, when it comes down to it, I really have an appreciation for what these sports do for their athletes in the effort to enable them to represent their country. Will baseball follow suit in order to give its athletes the same privilege? I don’t think so. The quick explanation is that the MLB season is already 162 games long, and allowing players to take time off for the Olympics creates more room for injuries and fatigue. My quick answer to this is simple-just shorten the season every four years.
However, there is another issue at hand-money. Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig stands to lose advertising dollars with a shorter season, and teams stand to lose money with the potential of key players becoming injured. To Selig and to the rest of the league, I say, suck it up. Let them play.
Injury exists in every sport. Players risk injury by participating. If the world’s best players can play other sports, they certainly should be able to play baseball, as well.
Another reason I think baseball needs to be added back is it truly has become an international sport, despite lack of international leagues. With the sport’s popularity in North America, South America, The Dominican Republic and Asia, baseball deserves to be in the Olympics. On another note, I don’t have as big an opinion on the pulling of softball from the games, but I do think it should be added back, as well. Who cares if the United States dominates every year? Somebody has to.