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|Softball: Olympic Sport No Longer?
Softball has been around since a man named George Hancock first
invented the game in 1887 in Chicago. It took over 100 years,
but women's fast pitch softball became an Olympic event in 1996.
Fast pitch is different from the looping, relaxed pitch often
used in recreational softball leagues. Fast pitch players must
hit a ball traveling at about 70mph. This is slower than
baseball, but certainly much faster than the meandering slow
pitch game. However, since the pitcher's mound and the home
plate are much closer than in baseball, (40 feet versus 60 feet)
the player must react to the pitch just as quickly.
The first softball, a spur of the moment creation in that
long-ago first game, was a boxing glove tied into the shape of a
ball. Today's softball is 12" in diameter, significantly bigger
than the standard base ball at 9", and all white. Softball is
actually a misnomer, as the ball used in the game is no softer
than a baseball, just larger.
The playing diamond is much smaller than baseball's, with only
60 feet between bases. Baseball diamonds have 90 feet between
each base. This makes for a faster, more active game than
baseball, a fact that many softball enthusiasts cite as one of
the reasons they enjoy the game so much.
Softball games are also two innings shorter than baseball games.
However, like baseball, softball seems to inspire devoted fans
and players. Many truly love their softball and pursue the game
with an almost fanatic passion.
In 1996, women's fast pitch softball made its first appearance
at the Atlanta Olympic Games. The United States team took the
first gold medal
in the sport, beating China in the gold medal
game 3-1. An orthopedic surgeon from Florida, Dot Richardson,
hit the first Olympic softball home run ever to win the game for
the United States, an achievement she calls her most memorable.
After being an Olympic sport for the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic
games, softball was recently dropped from the 2012 London
Olympics by a tied vote of 52-52 with one member abstaining.
Only a simple majority of 53 votes were needed to keep softball
in the Olympics, and softball supporters are trying to get the
Unfortunately, the Olympic committee doesn't seem very
interested in recasting this important ballot. Although the
softball federation will certainly have something to say about
this, the situation doesn't look hopeful for girls fostering an
Olympic fast pitch softball dream.
Perhaps confusion on the part of the Olympic committee caused
them to drop women's fast-pitch softball from the London games.
There has been speculation that the committee members thought
that women's softball was just a female version of baseball, and
not popular enough to matter. Whatever their motivations, we
hope that the committee will reconsider and reinstate women's
fast pitch softball.
About the author:
Jay Moncliff is the founder of
http://www.softballcenter.info a website specialized on Softball, resources
and articles. This site provides updated information on
Softball. For more info visit his site: Softball