The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 10, 2013

Players want an Olympic choice

OKLAHOMA CITY — If it all works out, many would have a decision to make.

Some might go their own way, begin a career or a family beyond the diamond. You know, real life. Others might live in the game as long as they’re allowed.

Nothing wrong with that.

They look forward to being faced with such a decision, as others have been faced with it before.

That’s why the eyes of the softball world will be on the September vote, in Buenes Aires, Argentina, of the International Olympic Committee.

Three (or four, depending how you look at it) different sports will be voted upon. Wrestling is up for a vote, too. So is squash. Softball and baseball are packaged together.

It recently became clear Major League Baseball owners will not release their players for Olympic play. Some wonder if that will sink the bid of both diamond sports.

USA Softball Women’s National Team coach Ken Eriksen remains optimistic.

“You have a sport in softball that’s never had a positive drug test, No. 1, the TV ratings are always high, it has worldwide appeal and it encompasses a majority of the population, which is women, and they’ll be watching,” he said. “So we have a lot of confidence.”

Softball was last an Olympic sport in 2008. It was included for the first time in 1996. The U.S. won gold in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

USA Softball is still waiting to avenge its 2008 gold medal loss to Japan at the Beijing Olympics.

The sport’s exclusion from the Games has created ripple effects felt throughout the softball world, but they’re more like waves in the U.S.

When softball was an Olympic sport, most of the national team players were in their late 20s. Now they’re college kids or just graduated college kids.

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