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MLB Sponsors USA Women’s Olympic Softball Team

September 9, 2020

MLB Sponsors USA Women’s Olympic Softball Team



by 2017 Canada Games // Jeux du Canada 2017 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Women’s softball is back in the Summer Olympic Games program and Major League Baseball is down with helping the team from the United States once again rule the softball world.

Baseball’s big leaguers threw their weight behind this goal. MLB is on board with Team USA’s mission to bring the gold medal home, serving as the presenting sponsor for the U.S. team.

“The players on Team USA share our commitment to growing softball, and we look forward to joining them as they inspire young women to play the sport,” MLB's executive vice president of baseball development Tony Reagins said in a statement.

“Representing your country on any international platform is an honor, but doing so on the Olympic stage is the pinnacle.”

Originally, plans were to sponsor the Stand Beside Her Tour, a July 22-28 series of games that was designed to serve as the final tune up for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympiad.

However, this tour - as well as the 2020 Summer Olympic Games itself - were scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

That hasn’t slowed down MLB’s determination to utilize its massive marketing power to also power the American squad.

“We’re both bat and ball sports,” Kim NG, MLB’s senior vice president for baseball operations, told NBC Sports. “Even though we’re not the same sport, there are so many similarities that you just can’t ignore.

“It was important for us to make sure that they have this acknowledgment and recognition of their ability and their talent.”

MLB also provides a direct link to USA Softball from the MLB.com website.

"The partnership and support of MLB provides members of the 2020 women's national team with access to support staff and resources they need to stand atop the podium and bring the gold back to the United States," USA Softball CEO Craig Cress said in a statement.

Olympic Softball History

"Introducing the USA National Team" by curtis palmer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

While the Los Angeles Dodgers may currently be situated atop the MLB betting odds, when it comes to Olympic women’s softball the Americans always reign as the odds-on favorites.

Team USA has proven to be the dominant force within Olympic women’s softball since it first became an Olympic sport with the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996.

On home soil that summer, a Team USA squad captured the first women’s softball gold medal in the tournament that was actually held about two hours from Atlanta in Columbus, Ga.

Led by star players such as Dot Richardson, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza, the Americans also won Olympic gold in 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens. The USA also reached the gold-medal game in 2008 at Beijing but were upset by Japan.

Baseball and softball were dropped by the International Olympic Committee from the 2012 London and 2016 Rio De Janeiro Summer Games. They were restored for this Olympiad.

“These are world-class athletes,” Ng said. “Because we have not been in the Olympics for the last 12 years, they just haven’t had that stage. So it’s really important at this point that we show as much support as we can for them.”

The U.S. and hosts Japan will be joined by Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico for the women’s softball tournament, which will be held in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Best Of The Best

While the men’s baseball tournament will be limited in scope in terms of the talent pool, the women’s softball event will showcase that absolute elite-level players in the world.

No players from MLB 40-man rosters are being permitted to participate in the men’s Olympic baseball tournament. As well, few top pitching prospects from any level of pro baseball are involved in the event.

At the 2008 Summer Games, current big-league stars such as Steven Strasburg (USA) of the Washington Nationals and Yu Darvish (Japan) of the Chicago Cubs participated in the tournament.

In women’s softball, the Olympics are the pinnacle event in which an athlete can participate.

“The platform for us is 10 times bigger,” American outfielder Haylie McCleney told NBC Sports. “For us, it’s a great opportunity for people that have never watched softball before, people that have only followed it at the collegiate level, to really see how fun our game is to watch, how pure it is.

“If people are baseball fans, I guarantee they’re going to love softball because it’s pretty much just a faster game – it’s shorter, it’s quicker, it’s more entertaining to watch, in my opinion.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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