Baseball is better off without the Olympics
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I know I am in the minority here, but I genuinely enjoy the World Baseball Classic. That is why I could care less that baseball was not voted back into the Olympics for the 2016 games.
Baseball does not need the Olympics, which in case you haven't noticed are about as relevant these days as black-and-white television. Save from a Michael Phelps-type performance that comes around every 30 years or so, the Olympic Games are met over here with the same type of fanfare as the upcoming United Football League season.
For those of you who don't know, baseball, along with softball, had already been voted out of the 2012 Summer Games in London.
However, the two slots left available by the International Olympic Committee's elimination were not filled by new sports, so baseball could have re-emerged in the 2016 Summer Games, provided no new sports were adopted and that it received enough votes to be included.
Well, that did not happen, as golf, which has not been an Olympic sport in over 100 years, and rugby, last in the Olympics back in 1924, were recommended for inclusion in the 2016 Summer Games.
"All seven sports made a strong case for inclusion, and the executive board carefully evaluated them in a transparent and fair process," said IOC president Jacques Rogge, who elected not to take part in the vote. "In the end, the decision came down to which two would add the most value. Golf and rugby will be a great addition to the Games."
I would like to point out that Rogge played on the Belgian national rugby team. Even though he did not have a vote in the proceedings, I am sure he had a unique interest in the outcome.
"Golf and rugby scored high on all the criteria," Rogge added. "They have global appeal, a geographically diverse lineup of top iconic athletes and an ethic that stresses fair play."
OK. Obviously golf has Tiger Woods, so that makes sense on some level, but rugby? Not to be the ugly American, but if anyone thinks rugby is more relevant or has a more diverse global field than baseball, then you are just clueless.
But, then again these are the same people who have voted synchronized swimming, archery, snowboarding and something called the biathalon into the games. If those people think events like that are relevant, maybe baseball is better off not being included.
People in the baseball world should not fret over this. The Olympics are a joke and there is no better way to promote your game than the World Baseball Classic, which will continue to get better.
The WBC may be a little slow catching on over here, but its popularity worldwide is unquestioned. And it is not going away. If anything, this latest IOC decision could make it bigger. This will be the only stage to determine world baseball supremacy.
USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler noted as much upon hearing the outcome of the IOC's vote.
"As disappointing as this decision by the IOC is, it is interesting to note the significant global growth our sport has experienced since we first heard of this possible outcome (Singapore in 2005)," Seiler said in a statement.
"International participation at all levels of baseball continues to grow, and the success of the World Baseball Classic is undeniable proof that ours is a sport with worldwide appeal. We are looking forward to contributing to, and being a part of that growth for years to come."
In other words, baseball will continue to grow, with or without the sinking ship that is the Olympics.