Sorry if this is a spoiler post, but I just have to scribble something about the USA women's Olympic softball team.
USA needed to lose.
Their dominance in women's softball is perhaps the greatest reason why the game was removed from the 2012 games in London, and if they want this game back in 2016, a loss by the US women would go a long way in showing the powers that be that the game of women's softball is actually competitive and worth following.
Now, do I think they intentionally lost?
I don't know. That's stepping into tin-foil-hat-territory. It would be pretty much impossible to throw away a gold medal in any Olympic game. However, to actually save the sport by keeping it on the world stage, there's got to be some level of competition instead of just a constant, never-ending dominance by a single team. And now, as much as we can lament this loss, the people of Japan can also feel the sting of not being able to defend their Olympic gold in the games four years from now. In other words, there are now at least two nations which want to see women's softball returned to the Olympic Games in 2016.
So yeah. Instead of sitting here telling ourselves that we kicked so much ass that the world didn't want to touch us, we now are sitting here saying that, hopefully, we'll get a shot at redemption in eight years.
Still, we needed to lose. And, I'm sure the conspiracy crowd will be rattling themselves silly over this, and who knows? Maybe they're right. But, it's the Olympics, and if you are given the choice of winning gold but never seeing your sport in the Olympics again, or losing the gold, accepting silver, and maybe giving those in charge of these things a reason to keep your game alive on the world stage, which would you choose?
That's a hell of a sacrifice, and that's what the USA women face. These women love this sport, and the only time it ever has any relevancy is every four years when it pops up in the Olympic games and a whole nation of people cheer for them. That's got to be an amazing feeling. But, it's also got to be incredibly gutting to know that by being too good at a sport you love, you helped drive it into obscurity, and that nation of people who once cheered for you will now be cheering for something else altogether.
Now, the last thing I'd ever want to do is belittle the win by the Japanese women. They played a hell of a game, and they clearly deserved the gold. Those women are heroes in their nation now. I'm willing to accept the fact that the USA women underestimated their opponent. After all, that's got to be an easy thing to do when you essentially skated through to the gold medal game by crushing everyone in your way. How do you prepare for a team that can beat you when you're playing teams which can't even come close?
Anyway, it's sad to see this game gone. And, I hope it comes back in eight years.
Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 8/21/2008 10:52:00 AM