POSTED: December 13th 2008

Baseball reaches out to the world

Harvey Schiller throws 'I Am Baseball' wristbands to fans at the Olympics / Image: Michael Zarrilli
Harvey Schiller throws 'I Am Baseball' wristbands to fans at the Olympics / Image: Michael Zarrilli

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/TAMPA: Baseball’s engagement across society at all levels is one of the most effective calling cards it can play in front of the IOC in Copenhagen next October.

That is when the International Baseball Federation reaches the final hurdle as it competes, along with golf, karate, roller sports, rugby union, softball and squash for access to the Games of 2016.

Baseball was cut from the programme after Beijing this past summer but IBAF president Harvey Schiller believes passionately in his sport’s case for a quick return. He says: “On one level baseball is a business that’s successful but, in fact, it doesn’t have any economic barriers at all. You can start at any age with any little amount of equipment.

“Also, it’s the sport that broke the racial barrier: Jackie Robinson was effectively one of the first African-Americans to play a major sport and that carried over into all other sports.

“So, baseball’s history has been dramatic, it’s played in every country in the world and in more than than 126 countries on an organised basis.

Significant contribution

“No matter which aspect you take - development, contributions to sports science and medicine, it meets all the criteria - and baseball has made a significant contribution towards the growth of sport around the world, not just its own sport but all sports. Many people play baseball when they are young and make the transition to other sports such as ice hockey, golf etc as they grow up.”

The IBAF is doing all it can to impress on IOC members, many of whom are European-based, with the worldwide appeal of baseball.

One of the latest pieces in that jigsaw is the sport’s agreement for the Eurosport television network to cover the forthcoming Baseball World Cup. Schiller says: “We’re trying to show the IOC that baseball is being distributed by media around the world.

"Certainly Major League Baseball, Japanese baseball, Latin baseball and the World Series are shown in more than 200 countries and the same thing has been true of the World Baseball Classic which is shown to 13 different languages.

“The truth is, we keep pressing as many buttons as we can to show the strength of baseball and the fact that it is a sport which appeals to people of all ages.”

Schiller draws on modern technology for further evidence to back his case, saying:  “There are more electronic games of baseball than of any other sport and if you go on and check Google for baseball in different languages you’ll find about 270m hits in different languages which is probably No1 among all sports.”

Keywords · Harvey Schiller · IBAF · baseball · Olympic Games 2016 · IOC · Copenhagen

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