Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bob Kravitz Is Wrong Even When He's Right

It's been awhile, Bobby:

Americans, softball eliminated at same time

Here's the mocking irony of Thursday's shocking U.S. softball loss to Japan in the Olympic gold medal game: Maybe if the heretofore unbeatable Americans had lost this game four years ago, maybe if they were just a little bit less dominant than they were while winning gold in 1996, 2000 and '04, maybe softball wouldn't be getting the boot from the Olympic menu.

Actually, I agree with Kravitz's point here: USA softball's dominance has led in part to the International Olympic Committee dropping the sport.

It was a tough night, then, for the American softballers, who not only got upset 3-1 by Japan in the title game, not only failed to win gold for the first time in Olympic history, but they lost their sport as an Olympic participant -- at least for the time being.

Yes, the US lost softball as an Olympic sport, but that was decided months ago. Even though the title game was the last Olympic softball game, they did not "lose their sport" that night. Everyone--except Kravitz, probably--knew it was coming.

Baseball and softball are out of the games, but can petition their way back in for the 2016 Games. In the meantime, the International Olympic Committee is considering rugby, karate, roller sports -- what? -- golf and squash.

Talk about your NBC ratings gold mine: Coming up after gymnastics, a Tajik and a Togolese battle for squash supremacy. Tom Hammonds on the call . . .

So, the IOC should decide on whether or not a sport belongs in the Olympics based on NBC's ratings? You do realize that the Olympics are viewed worldwide, right?

This is not an American decision, obviously.

Then why did you write the thing about ratings? Do you do know your keyboard has a "delete" key?

But there is rampant anti-American sentiment within the IOC. And there's some residue from the tortured relationship between Major League Baseball and the IOC. MLB is not willing to suspend its season for Olympic play, and the IOC finds baseball's shoddy drug history distasteful -- although drug cheating hasn't inspired it to run track and field out of the Olympics.

Bottom line, the primary reason softball is getting the boot is the Americans are too danged dominant. Check that, were too dominant.

Is that the reason? For sure? You know this? The IOC says its because softball doesn't have "international appeal."

Back in June, HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel did a story about this. One theory presented in this story is that the IOC wants to get rid of baseball, and most of the IOC members link baseball and softball together, despite being pretty different sports.

Bob would know this if he he actually watched and read about sports, since, you know, it's his job.

We had come to hail America's softball coronation, and then to write the epitaph of a sport that is getting the ejection at precisely the wrong time. What would have happened in London? The U.S. would have put together a softball Redeem Team.

"Precisely the wrong time?" The Beijing title game was the first time the US has not won a softball gold medal at the Olympics. Yes, now that Japan has beaten the US, it would seem more parity has come to softball, but the decision was made months ago.

Four years ago after the Americans won the gold medal in Athens, outscoring opponents 51-1, American catcher Stacey Nuveman considered the shaky Olympic future of her sport.

"It's hard to believe that being good is a bad thing,'' she said at the time. "In table tennis, you see China, China, China. Softball is dominated by the USA. That's just the way it is."

If one team dominates a competition by outscoring its opponents 51-1, then there is no parity. Period.

Also, table tennis has been around for a long time. Countries have had plenty of chances to improve. Softball, by comparison, is very young. Should the IOC give it more of a chance to grow as an Olympic sport? Certainly. But a comparison of USA dominance in softball to China's dominance in table tennis is illogical.

The problem with softball isn't that too few nations are playing the game. Seriously, how many archery zealots are out there, besides bow hunters and summer campers? This is a U.S.-related thing, pure and simple.

Oh, yeah? Just for shits and grins, here are the results of the round of 16 for the men's archery event in Beijing. Out of 16 competitors, 11 countries are represented. Not bad. Here are the results of the round of 8. How many countries do you think are represented among the 8 athletes? That took a whopping .35 seconds to find, by the way.

Nothing like data to get in the way of a dumb point.

It's a moronic decision, not unlike the one IOC president Jacques Rogge made earlier in the day when he took issue with sprint champion Usain Bolt's post-race celebration.

For the record, at first I was annoyed at Bolt's antics in the 100m. Then, after watching him in other events, it was clear he wasn't showing anyone up, but having fun. My only problem with Bolt celebrating is that I just want to know by how much more he would have destroyed the world record!

Bolt's actions upset Rogge, but he had no problem with China's decision to revoke Joey Cheek's visa,

Um, completely unrelated...

or the underaged Chinese gymnast controversy,

Which is now under investigation...

or the fact that 77 groups have petitioned to protest in various protest zones, and all have been denied.

Why does Kravitz expect the head of the IOC to make political statements now after repeatedly avoiding politics?

If the IOC wants to get rid of a sport, how about the equestrian events? Four riders were booted Thursday when it was determined their horses -- their horses -- had performance-enhancing drugs in their systems.

We never knowingly took drugs . . . Somebody spiked our hay . . . They told us it was linseed oil . . . Where's my lawyer?

So that's why the horses had long faces!

(rim shot)

Try the veal, people.

There's just no good argument for upholding the decision to toss softball. The Olympics need as many good women's team sports as it can get. Almost without fail, women's teams in basketball, softball and soccer have provided the world -- and specifically the American viewers -- with some of the best theater in the Olympics.

It's utterly amazing to me how someone who is arguing for the right result can be so wrong in doing it. Kravitz is right--there should be many women's sports in the Olympics. The reason is that more women are playing more sports worldwide, and they should get the opportunity to compete at the highest level. However, the fact that women's basketball and soccer have provided "the best theater" has nothing to do with softball and whether or not it should be kept (and I'm not sure I agree with Kravitz that women's softball has provided the best theater, when until 2008 the USA had dominated the sport).

By the way, why does Kravitz single out American viewers? If he's right about his point that the IOC has an anti-American bias, doesn't that hurt his argument?

My head hurts.

If softball can't make the cut but roller sports do, it's fair to wonder what's next:

Croquet. It's not your Aunt Gertrude's sport anymore.

I don't think anyone has suggested this, but I'll go along with you. Have you seen curling in the winter Olympics? Not exactly running, jumping, or climbing trees, either (I do love watching it, though).

Beer pong. Finally, a sport I've been training for all of my adult life.

Stupidity is, too. Will that be a sport?

Bowling. Let's bump up the Hoosier presence.

The beer pong would do that. Look, there has been a movement to get bowling added for a long time, and it's not all that far-fetched. Why not bowling? (See curling comment above). To use another Kravitz example, archery doesn't have a lot of running, either.

Softball belongs in the Olympics.

True, despite your feeble-minded argument...

If that wasn't clear before Thursday night's gold-medal upset, it should be abundantly obvious now.

No, based on your argument, it's less obvious then ever. Let's hope Kravitz isn't the one chosen to make softball's case before the IOC.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

Kravitz articles seem to have that shotgun effect. They can be very scattered, but some part of the shot will hit the target. I'm sure Kravitz is looking forward to going back to his two/three articles per week.

I can't imagine what the Indianapolis Newspaper Monopoly would be like if it actually had a true sports columnist. This town has not had one as far back as I can remember.

Instead we get to deal with the lazy vanilla drivel that Kravitz puts out. We've seen too many articles that he has not put any research into or asks the reader to do the research for him.

But hey, it gives us something to write about on a regular basis.

August 26, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

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