August 29, 2002

Baseball to be dropped from the Olympic Games?: The IOC is looking at dropping both baseball and softball from the summer Olympic Games, because they are not universal enough. Also at risk are Greco-Roman wrestling, walking and the pentathlon. Likely to be added are golf and rugby union sevens.

posted by salmacis to other at 05:25 AM - 17 comments

Walking isn't universal?

posted by werty at 08:51 AM on August 29, 2002

Walking isn't universal? It is, but Olympic walking is silly. Then again, with synchronised swimming not under threat, who's the judge of silliness?

posted by etagloh at 10:14 AM on August 29, 2002

this is going to could screw latin america big time. when was the last time you heard of the Haitian Rugby squad?

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:28 AM on August 29, 2002

I think the difference between rugby union and baseball is that rugby union is widely played in every continent. Baseball is largely confined to North America, South America and Asia. That is supposedly a consideration of the IOC, rightly or wrongly. I wonder whether Great Britain will enter a team in Olympic rugby? We don't enter a team in Olympic football because there is no British Football Association. In rugby union there is the added complication that Ireland compete as the whole island, encompassing the Republic and part of the United Kingdom. When was the last time you heard of the Fijian baseball team?

posted by salmacis at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2002

Let me clarify salmacis: I think there's definitely room for both baseball and rugby. I can't think of a country that has prominent teams in both sports (please correct if I'm wrong). It seems to me like the places that have rugby don't have baseball, and vice versa. Rugby (with the exception of maybe the U.S. and Canadian teams, and I have no idea if they're any good or not) seems almost exclusively European and Australian, save maybe South Africa. That doesn't seem very global to me. I would welcome Olympic Rugby though, as it sure would be more entertaining than platform diving. And I would add that baseball is one of the few sports that the smaller latin american countries have a snowball's chance in hell at, maybe save soccer, but unlikely. If they're going to be global games, then I think to relegate an entire region to one sport is not cool.

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2002

If this nation can have a hockey team, Fiji can have a baseball team.

posted by grum@work at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2002

When was the last time you heard of any latin american rugby teams? (Or any in North America outside of Canada?) Or Japanese? Or Korean? Maybe that's just American media bias towards baseball, but...

posted by tieguy at 12:51 PM on August 29, 2002

Argentina has a pretty strong rugby team, Chile and Uruguay also play; the U.S are no mugs either. Japan participates in Rugby world cups, as does Namibia and Tonga. Smaller nations such as Samoa and Fiji have a genuine chance in the sevens version of the game. Not being a follower I wouldn't know but I suspect the U.S are dominant in baseball. Having said that, rugby is a minority sport even in the major Rugby playing nations.

posted by Fat Buddha at 02:06 PM on August 29, 2002

Actually, Buddha, Cuba won gold in '92 and '96, U.S. took gold in 2000. (it was a demo sport before '92).

posted by Ufez Jones at 02:32 PM on August 29, 2002

You gotta keep greco-roman wrestling and pentathlon. They're classics, although I think the pentathlon would be a lot more impressive if it was still like it was in ancient Greece: discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, and a foot race. Hell, as long as we're making wish lists, I wish the pentathlon was discus, javelin, fighting a bear, caber toss, and cliffdiving. I'd definitely watch that. Grum: One of the RWs on the Isreali team is 5'3", 123 lbs. I feel much better about myself now.

posted by Samsonov14 at 03:38 PM on August 29, 2002

samsonov: note that they're dropping /modern/ pentathlon, which is... mosty crap :) But yeah, greco-roman sort of always struck me as the most Olympic of sports, whatever that means. FWIW, if baseball were basketball and all the pros played, the dominicans would probably kick the crap out of the US :) San Pedro de Macoris by itself probably could...

posted by tieguy at 04:20 PM on August 29, 2002

Just about the onlything I can think of that is stupider than Olympic Baseball would be Olympic Golf. Well, maybe that's not quite fair, and it is not consistant with my other rule: that the Olympics should only have individual sports, not team sports. I'd make an exception for bobslead, 'cause it's cool. Country Club sports like golf and tennis, though, have international exhibitions which are always going to be more important than the Olympics, so why bother? Greco-Roman 'Rasslin, boxing, track and field-- these are Olympic sports. Ballroom Dancing, sailing-- no, I don't think so. And no auto racing either.

posted by outside counsel at 05:07 PM on August 29, 2002

Ufez Jones...fair enough squire.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:07 PM on August 29, 2002

Greco-Roman wrestling? Fawkin' hell, even the NAME sounds like it belongs in the Olympics! I can understand some of these sports not seeming very "Olympian", but jeezus- while not a wrestler myself, I can't help but think: is there anything more purely representive of the raw athletic prowess the Olympics is supposed to be about than the main Track & Field events and wrestling?!? Fat Buddha: the U.S. might be dominant in baseball if the Olympics didn't occur during the stretch run of the Major League baseball season. But then again, salient points are a) MLB could and IMO should allow any team- or at least any teams that are realistically out of the playoff hunt- to permit up to two players from their roster to take a non-DL leave of absence for the Olympics, if they wish to represent their home countries in the Olympics, and b) Some of the very best players in MLB are not from the U.S.; perhaps the Dominican Republic would be perennial Olympic champs if MLB started letting players go to the Olympics mid-season: an outfield of Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, and Vlad Guerrero (presumably Vlad would move to center :) ), infielders like Alfonso Soriano, pitchers like Pedro Martinez- the U.S. might not cakewalk as much as you'd think....

posted by hincandenza at 07:48 PM on August 29, 2002

I think maybe American media downplays the global appeal of rugby. Although the sport is only really popular in Britain, France, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, it is played to a fairly good standard in a number of other countries: Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, USA, Canada, Italy, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Spain, Japan, Korea for instance. Baseball's appeal seems to be more localised, like cricket. There are huge swathes of the globe where baseball is hardly organised at all, and that's what counts against it in the eyes of the IOC. The fact that the best rugby players would participate in a rugby sevens Olympic tournament is probably also another reason to choose it over baseball. Another possiblilty is that rugby can be played in a soccer stadium, whereas most Olympic cities would have no reason otherwise to construct a baseball stadium.

posted by salmacis at 04:54 AM on August 30, 2002

Voros McCracken wrote an interesting article on how 32 nations would stack up if they had the chance to send their best players to play at the World Cup of baseball. USA has the best team, followed closely by the Dominicans.

posted by Trembling Fool at 09:19 AM on August 30, 2002

Question: what rules would a baseball world cup be run under? Is there a world governing body?

posted by salmacis at 07:59 PM on August 30, 2002

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