POSTED: January 5th 2010
Q&A: Harvey Schiller on how baseball can emerge a winner from Olympic defeat
LAURA WALDEN & KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications
TAMPA/LONDON: GlobalOptions Group CEO Harvey Schiller shared his views on the future of baseball, Olympic television rights, event security and the USOC's new leader in an exclusive interview with SportsFeatures.com.
You finished your term as President of the IBAF in December. Now that baseball no longer has the Olympics as its international focal point how do you see this being positive for the growth of the Baseball World Cup?
I think that even without the Olympics, baseball benefited from the process by bringing attention to the sport with emerging nations and in Europe. One beneficiary was the World Cup, and that property, as an off year event for the World Baseball Classic, or maybe even as a qualifier for the Classic, will still be strong on its own.
Will baseball want to try to regain Olympic status after the snub in Copenhagen?
That is for the new administration to decide. My feeling is it is not worth the effort and the cost. The cost should go into developing the game at the grassroots level. If the Olympics wanted baseball - baseball would still be in the Games.
Will the Olympic rejection lead to baseball reversing its WADA-friendly, anti-doping progress?
The growth and leadership position in anti-doping that baseball has taken has as much to do with the MLB Players Association and the Professional Leagues than it has to do with the Olympics. That position by the leadership of the sport will not diminish. As a matter of fact many Olympic sports should take note and emulate what baseball is doing.
What advice would you pass on to other sports considering a bid to try to get on the Olympic programme?
Consider where the IOC considers growth areas for the future…reaching youth in emerging sports in particular. Also it is very important not to lose sight of your own growth just to be part of the Olympic programme. Many candidates put large amounts of resources on videos and consultants who they felt were essential to their Olympic bid. Those resources should go to the development of the game, which in turn can drive Olympic interest. .
The loss of Olympic funding will have an effect on baseball worldwide. In many ways MLB steps in and does far more good development work than it is given credit for. What do you think will happen to those countries that will be the hardest hit by the lack of Olympic support?
I think it will have some effect but not the huge effect that it will have on other sports. MLB and some of the other professional leagues don’t get the credit for all they have done in the past to fund the growth of baseball around the world on the development side.
The federations benefited more from those monies than from the spend of the local governments, so the focus should be on working to develop cost-efficient programmes in key areas, working with the professional leagues, and to go from there.
Baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry and is a game for all that will continue to grow, and I believe that a good part of that growth will come from emerging countries who now have an interest in the game where they did not before.
You served from 1990-1994 as executive director of the USOC. What advice would you give the new USOC ceo Scott Blackmun?
Scott is an insider who was at the USOC during some of its best days and has been a success everywhere he has been. Frankly he deserved the job 10 years ago. He will surround himself with the right people who can help him both on the federation and on the international level, and it is my sincere hope that this signals better days ahead for the organization. If asked I will help him and his team in any way possible.
If you could redesign the international relations and outreach of the USOC how would you go about it?
I think it is all about relationships and being inclusive and that happens only with time and experience. Sport is a global business now more than ever, so having people take the time to meet and build relationships…personal relationships…with the leaders in sports and media is the best way to work. Heavy handedness does not work any more in the Olympic movement. Inclusiveness does.
Thanks to Joe Favorito for assisting with this interview.
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