I haven’t watched much of the Olympics this year. Not for any particular reason, mostly just because whenever I turn it on they’re showing a sport I’m not interested in – like really big guys lifting huge weights for about 3 seconds before throwing them on the ground.
Besides, the Olympics are competing with baseball. Baseball always wins in my world.
But it did get me thinking about the IOC’s 2005 vote to remove baseball and softball from the Olympic games. What was up with that? There are several theories out there – from politics to lack of interest. It’s all been covered before. Thus, here I only want to reminisce about baseball’s past involvement with the Olympics.
It all started in 1904 at the St. Louis Olympics with an exhibition game. Demonstration games were also played at the 1912, ’24, ’36, ’64, ’84, and ’88 Olympics. Baseball achieved medal status for the 1992 games and was in the next four Olympics. Cuba won gold three times (1992, 1996, 2004); the U.S. won gold in 2000; and South Korea took the gold in 2008.
But in 2005, the IOC voted to remove baseball and softball from the list of Olympic medal sports, beginning with the 2012 Olympics. At the 2008 Olympics, the president of the IOC, Jacques Rogge stated: “To be on the Olympic program is an issue where you need universality as much as possible. You need to have a sport with a following, you need to have the best players and you need to be in strict compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). And these are the qualifications that have to be met. When you have all that, you have to win hearts. You can win the mind, but you still must win hearts.”
Baseball may not have won the hearts of the IOC, but it certainly has won mine.