Tuesday, October 29, 2002
USOC out to save baseball, softball, modern pentathlon
CHICAGO -- The U.S. Olympic Committee is getting help from
some of its biggest sponsors in its bid to keep baseball, softball
and modern pentathlon in the Summer Games.
A handful of key sponsors have sent letters to International
Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, supporting the continued
existence of the sports, the head of the USOC said Monday.
''I am cautiously optimistic,'' USOC president Marty Mankamyer
said. ''We figured that if we were going to lose, we were going to
lose going down every way we could.''
The IOC is expected to vote whether to keep baseball, softball
and modern pentathlon at a meeting next month in Mexico City. The
IOC program commission has recommended adding golf and rugby in
Any changes will go into effect starting with the 2008 Summer
Games in Beijing.
''The idea is not ill-conceived that you should limit the size
of the games and the expense to the cities. That is a good, sound
business (decision),'' Mankamyer said.
''But they may not have thought it through.''
Rogge has said sports should be included based on, among other
things, their popularity, universal appeal, cost and diversity. But
Mankamyer said the IOC might have gotten bad information in
determining that softball, baseball and modern pentathlon didn't
meet those criteria.
And there are other ways to reduce the size of the games,
Mankamyer said. Limit the number of support personnel, like the
personal trainers and psychologists that accompany some athletes.
Ask the individual sports to come up with areas they could cut.
Softball and baseball, for example, have come up with a
condensed schedule that would allow them to share a venue,
Major league baseball is also looking at ways to include its
big-name athletes. One criticism of baseball is that its biggest
stars don't participate because the season overlaps with the
''Major league baseball has been very supportive,'' Mankamyer
said. ''They think with a shortened format, they would be able to
try and get some of their headliners.''
The USOC is also lobbying individual members of the IOC. It's
built a database that includes the country and sport background of
the 120-plus members, and is reminding them it could be their sport
at risk next time.
So far, Mankamyer said, the support has been positive.
''We feel we're getting an increasing number of people who are
saying, 'Let's not change the program,''' she said.
While there has been some talk the IOC might delay its vote,
Mankamyer said the USOC isn't counting on that.
''We can't relax just in case they change their minds,'' she
said. ''So we'll be working to get their support and keep their