Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eliminate Baseball!

I like baseball. I like the Olympics. Baseball is going to be eliminated from the games after this Olympics, and I think that's great.

The Olympics are great because they're different than any other competition. I'm not really very interested in the pole vault, or swimming, but once every four years I care enough to pay attention. What makes a good Olympic sport? To me, it must be a legitimate world championship, ideally in a sport that gets little attention outside the Olympics. It should also be from a worldwide sport, i.e. lots of participants from many countries. Track is a great Olympic event because anyone can run and compete.

Under this rationale, baseball should be out. Major League Baseball teams do not let their players participate in the Olympics, so the best players (from America, Japan, Venezuela, Canada, Dominican Republic, etc.) don't play. The American team is all minor leaguers. Additionally, I think the new (and very cool) World Baseball Classic is going to become very popular. This will become a true competition between nations, like the World Cup for soccer.

I found this old SI article about the procedure for eliminating events. It's interesting reading. Golf did not make the Olympics this time. Golf would be almost as silly as baseball. There are already many, many golf events out there. It has a wide following, and hardly needs more exposure.

This is also the last Olympics for softball. I'm not a big fan of softball because, as one article I read emphasized, America is too good. It's not interesting if one country completely dominates.

Eliminating these sports also helps with limiting the size of the Olympics, a worthy goal mentioned in the SI article. I don't see a need to add any more sports; I think the Olympics would be better off allowing more countries to send athletes in existing sports. For instance, I think it's much better to let ten small countries send an additional sprinter or two, even if those sprinters have no chance, than to allow golf.

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