FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kristin Conte
WOMEN'S SPORTS FOUNDATION? COMMENTS ON PLAYER WINNING ARBITRATION CASE AGAINST
AMATEUR SOFTBALL ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA; USA OLYMPIC SOFTBALL TEAM VACATED;
NEW OLYMPIC TEAM TO BE SELECTED
East Meadow, NY - (May 2, 2000) - In a landmark Amateur Sports Act decision
last week, a federal arbitrator ruled that the Amateur Softball Association of
America (ASA) violated the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) approved
Team Selection Procedures for Softball, which are intended to provide a uniform
and largely objective basis for the selection of softball athletes to the
Earlier this year, 1996 Olympic Softball Gold Medalist Julie Smith, a
long-standing member of the U.S. National Softball team, filed a grievance with
the American Arbitration Association against the ASA after being left off of
the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team - despite an impressive and unparalleled performance
Smith, the active and outspoken softball player representative to the United
States Olympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council, alleged that the ASA failed
to follow the rules or guidelines for Team selection, thereby denying her the
opportunity to fairly and justly tryout and be selected to the U.S. Olympic
Team, and ultimately denying her the right to participate in the 2000 Olympic
Games. These athlete rights are established by Article IX of the USOC
Constitution and the Amateur Sports Act.
After two days of ***argument in Los Angeles, Calif., the arbitrator found in
favor of Smith, ruling that "Julie Smith was denied the opportunity to be on
the 2000 Olympic Team due to the misapplication of the USOC approved Selection
This ruling, the first of its kind, resulted in the order that the 2000 U.S.
Olympic Team selections be immediately vacated, and the ASA's "Selection
Committee" be reconvened for new selections in accordance with the rules.
"There is no right more precious and fundamental to an amateur athlete than the
right to represent the United States at the Olympic Games. Olympic team
selection groups must operate from the highest ground," commented Women's
Sports Foundation President Nancy Lieberman-Cline on the significance of this
"They cannot let the personal bias of coaches who might prefer "conforming"
personalities to stand in the way of objective assessment of performance and
talent. Playing on a team is all about playing with teammates who you might
not like but whose athletic abilities you respect. This arbitration decision
was an important one and a reminder to all selection committees that with power
comes responsibility. Athletes work their entire lives sacrificing everything
for the chance to be the best and to compete in the Olympics," said Foundation
Executive Director Donna Lopiano.
"Our Olympic teams should consist of the nation's very best players. Too
often, in team sports, the best players are not selected for teams due to the
personal or political agendas of coaches or selection committee members in the
name of "team chemistry" or questionable subjective criteria. Sometimes,
players are retaliated against and not selected because they have spoken
against their national sports governing bodies or disagreed with the actions of
their coaches or organizational representatives. Pettiness and political
agendas have no place when athletes are trying to be objectively judged for a
once in a lifetime experience of representing their country in the Olympic
Games -- or in any team selection for that matter. This case was not about
Julie Smith, it was about every athlete having the right to an unbiased
selection process," further stated Lopiano.
The Women's Sports Foundation is a national, nonprofit member-based
organization dedicated to increasing opportunities for girls and women in
sports and fitness through education, advocacy, recognition and grants.
Established in 1974 by Billie Jean King, its founder; Donna de Varona, a
founding member and its first president; and many other champion female
athletes, the Foundation seeks to create and educated public that encourages
females' participation and supports gender equality in sport. The Foundation is
located in Nassau County, N.Y.
For more information call (800) 227-3988 or visit
www.WomensSportsFoundation.org. or AOL Keyword: WSF.
Julie Smith's attorney is Danielle Carver, who may be reached at (212)