Can we save Olympic softball in 2008?

Can we save Olympic softball in 2008?

Post by AxelJe » Thu, 05 Sep 2002 02:53:23

Yes, it's sad, but it's true.  The more facts and opinions I read, the more the
truth hits home.  

It's all well and good that people on the board want to start an e-mail
campaign to the IOC, but will that alone sway the opinions of its members?
When you think about it, probably not.  Even if they were to receive 1,000,
2,000, or 5,000 e-mailed pleas to save the sport from this campaign, that's not
enough people to fill the stands at a single session.

What it essentially boils down to is politics and money.  

Politically, it is clear that the IOC has already expressed its bias against
keeping softball in the Games, and no matter how heartfelt, the e-mailed pleas
of the masses (many of whom wouldn't even be able to attend Olympic softball in
person) will be unlikely to have a change of heart.

And as I mentioned in a previous post, if the Americans return to a ***
position in defending their gold medal in Athens, the anti-American forces
working within the IOC will have even more justification to do away with the
sport, since the USA keeps winning.

And again, the inclusion of golf as a sport would allow participation by every
Olympic country that cares to field a team, rather than the 8 countries that
qualify for the softball tournament.

But beyond that, there are the money issues.  

There are very few Olympic-caliber softball stadiums in the world, meaning that
wherever the Games are held, a new stadium complex will have to be built.  When
the IOC looks at an expense like that, as opposed to using existing facilities
for sports like rugby and golf.  (Rugby can be played at almost any stadium,
and what Olympic city wouldn't have plenty of golf courses that could be used,
or modified for use?)

Softball also does not bring with it the kind of marketing partners that can
(or are willing to spend) Olympic-sized sponsorship dollars.  Golf, on the
other hand... look at who's advertising on some of these tournaments as they're
televised.  There are big bucks there.

One of softball's only hopes is that baseball -- in its bid to retain its spot
in the games -- takes softball under its wing as a "sister sport" when MLB and
its marketing partners put their big push on the IOC.  However, it certainly
doesn't help matters when one of MLB's biggest sponsors is MasterCard, and one
of the IOC's biggest sponsors is Visa.  

The other way of possibly saving softball?  In addition to making your
impassioned pleas to the IOC, do the same with the IOC's "Top V" marketing
partners.  These companies obviously have more access to IOC ears than we do.
If we can find one or more of these marketing partners willing to go out on a
limb in support of softball, that's where we've got a real shot at saving the
sport.  Who are the "Top V" marketing partners?  For the 2000-2004 quadrennium,
they are:

John Hancock Insurance
Sports Illustrated

Granted, these companies will not necessarily be "Top V" marketing partners for
2004-2008, but now is when opinions are being formed and decisions are being

So if you're really serious about wanting to have softball included in the 2008
Olympics, don't just stop with your letter to the IOC.  Find a way to reach
these companies as well.  If any of you know or somehow get the names and
e-mail addresses of good contacts, post them here.  Be good sports about it...
don't threaten boycotts of their products, just help them to see the benefits
of marketing to the "softball family" demographic.  Let them know who we are,
and why we'd appreciate their support... that there are thousands of young
ladies out there who are counting on them for a shot at their own Olympic

I'm sure the ISF is lobbying as hard as it can, but if we, as softball fans,
are going to take it upon ourselves to save the sport... let's at least talk to
the right people about it!  In this case, the people with the money are the
people with the real power, because they are the only ones who are going to
change those biased IOC minds.

Jeff Axelrod
Los Angeles


Can we save Olympic softball in 2008?

Post by EchoAn » Thu, 05 Sep 2002 14:57:14

>What it essentially boils down to is politics and money.  

Yes, good post.  You are correct.  Money talks.

The part about not threatening a boycott, however, warrants further discussion.
 It's my understanding that corporate boards have a fiduciary duty to their
stockholders that, in essence, means that they must make decisions intended to
increase stock values.  While the *goodwill* value of maintaining the dream for
American girls *might* be enough to justify a corporation's statement in favor
of keeping softball, a threatened boycott would have a clear and immediate
financial impact and would have to be taken seriously.

A few thousand people won't be enough, but if those few thousand were each able
to convince others to take up the cause, who knows how far a boycott could go.
The internet itself is a powerful communication tool.  Searches with the word
*softball* turn up thousands of hits.  A chain email letter could spread as
quickly as a computer virus when all it takes to forward it to a list of others
is the click of a mouse.

I'm not saying that a boycott is the best way to go, but I certainly wouldn't
dismiss it.

The people who SHOULD be involved in a mass campaign are the players.  Nobody,
I think, is more impassioned about their sport than a girl about fastpitch
softball.  Moreover, nobody rallies behind a campaign with more zeal than a
kid.  Yet, I'll venture that most softball PLAYERS have no idea that the sport
is on the chopping block for 2008.

Perhaps if a few million girls coordinated their efforts and mass emailed a
protest to each of the marketing partners you listed at the same time, it would
jam their inboxes. That, I'd say, would make a statement.

Anybody know the addies of corporate headquarters for these companies?