We continue our list of the Top 15 Softball Stories of 2019, which will run through December 31st when we’ll present our No. 1 story of the year.
Here are the previous stories (clink on link to read):
- #15… Team USA Dominates Summer Competition… with One Exception
- #14… USA Softball’s 2020 Stand Beside Her Tour… Taking the Brand Nationwide
- #13… Sam Show’s Bat Flips - & Clutch Performances - Light Up the 2019 Season
- #12… National High School Player of the Year Sydney Supple Spearheads Hometown Field of Dreams
- #11… Busy Year for the NPF Including USSSA Pride Out & CA Commotion In
- #10… PGF Nationals Celebrates 10 Years with Barnburner Finishes
- #9… Coaches Accused of Abuse by Players at Power 5 Colleges
- #8… Mark Campbell’s Death Stuns Club & High School Softball World
- #7… September 1 Becomes a Special Day in Recruiting (Again)
- #6… 2020 Tokyo Olympic Field of Six Finalized
- #5... Geri Ann Glasco Dies in Car Accident… Softball Community Mourns, Rallies Behind Glasco Family
- #4... UCLA Back on Top with WCWS Title, Rachel Garcia Repeats as National Player of the Year
We’ve surveyed the softball community and talked internally as well to come up with what were the most impactful and relevant stories of the year pertaining to the world of fastpitch softball.
Where applicable, we are providing links to the original articles and/or references when the story first happened.
Today’s story… #3… Softball Out at 2024 Paris Olympics. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games about a year and a half away, the softball community was shocked to learn in February that the next round of Olympic Summer Games, to be held in Paris in 2024, would not have softball (or baseball, for that matter) after being voted out by the hosts in favor of new sports. Just wait ‘til you read which ones made it instead…
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Softball has been growing in popularity in the United States and internationally as more countries are joining regularly. For example, five new member nations were added to the World Baseball Softball Confederation in November of this year: Benin, Bangladesh, Palestine, Egypt and Kosovo.
In the U.S., the DI Softball Women’s College World Series on ESPN continues to outdraw baseball on ESPN and the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has expanded its coverage to include events it runs such as the St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational that kicked off in 2019 with sold-out crowds and high-profile team match-ups.
The growth of the sport, at least at the college and international levels, seemed to be trending in the right direction until the painful news came out in February that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games organizing committee recommended that softball and baseball (teamed together as one sport) not be included.
Four sports were suggested to be included instead: sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing, which will be in the Toyko Games, and breakdancing. Yea... we know.
Ironically, the two nation’s ranked highest internationally—Japan and the U.S.—competed in Paris this summer along with the French national team as part of the Achille Challenge for the U-19 age division. Hopefully, the exposure in Europe will increase the popularity of the sport on that continent where it’s not as popular (yet) as it is elsewhere like Asia and South America.
All is not lost for softball long-term in the Olympic Games, however. The 2028 Summer Games will be held in Los Angeles and, like in Japan next year, you’d have to think the L.A. organizing committee would recommend softball/baseball be re-added. It would still have to be approved by the Internal Olympic Committee, but being in the Southern California where both sports have a strong base, you can’t image it wouldn’t happen.
Still, it’s a blow to the young athletes who have grown up dreaming to play in the Olympics and now, with an eighty-year gap, there will be a generation of athletes who will miss that chance, even if softball/baseball is restored in 2028.
Nonetheless, we feel the sport will survive this frustrating set-back and bounce back better than ever.
As Craig Cresse, the USA Softball CEO, stated perfectly: “While disheartening, the response we’ve seen from the softball community is a resounding display that our sport will continue to thrive and grow. We won’t give up, the work never ends - but we can promise you that our athletes will continue to compete each year and proudly represent our great nation on the international stage and we encourage fans to continue their loyal support of softball."
"We also stand with the international softball community in the fight for inclusion in future Olympic Games and we will continue to work with groups who value the growth of our sport both domestically and internationally.”
*** Scroll down to read the Extra Inning Softball articles from earlier this year that detailed why the 2024 Paris Olympic Games won't include softball... and the four sports the host city organizing committee recommends instead.