POSTED: April 7th 2009

Baseball plays female factor in 2016 bid

Harvey Schiller: expanding baseball's horizons / Image: IBAF
Harvey Schiller: expanding baseball's horizons / Image: IBAF

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

CHICAGO: The days of peaceful coexistence between baseball and softball, as both pursue a return to the Olympic Games, are at an end.

Softball rebuffed baseball’s recent attempt to cosy up and cross-promote an informal joint candidacy and now the International Baseball Federation has stepped out in the opposite direction.

Of course, with a decision expected in August over which sports will be short-listed for the IOC’s October vote, it may be too late already. But the International Baseball Federation has nailed a women’s discipline addendum to its original submission to the International Olympic Committee.

While softball officials reject wholeheartedly descriptions of softball as “women’s baseball” the label retains resonance beyond the sport. Thus it was seen to balance baseball in previous Olympic programming because baseball did not have a women’s discipline.

Now, IBAF president Harvey Schiller wants all that to change. He said: “There’s been a great amount of talk about adding women’s baseball over the past year but recently the growth of the sport in places where baseball is already popular, as well as the request by new federations to increase the number of young girls playing in baseball, has led us to move ahead and amend our 2016 proposal.

Full discipline

“We have shown that baseball is a sport for all, and the addition of a women’s discipline for the Olympics - which would take the place of our women’s World Cup in 2016 - further illustrates that point.”

More than 30 of the IBAF’s 128 member federations have a full discipline for women. Schiller hopes the addition of a full women’s discipline will increase the number of countries eligible for the Women’s World Cup in 2010.

The last Women’s World Cup was held in Japan in 2008, with the hosts defeating Canada in the final.

IBAF leaders are also pulling together a steering committee to focus on the growth of the women’s discipline worldwide. They claim enthusiastic support on the issue from both Major League Baseball in the United States and the Japanese Professional Leagues.

The other sports competing for a maximum two slots at the 2016 Games are golf, karate, roller sports, rugby union and squash.

Keywords · IBAF · baseball · softball · Schiller · IOC · Olympic Games 2016

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