For ten years, my weekends consisted of dirty cleats, greasy meals and long drives to softball games. There were no movie dates or manicures and pedicures at the spa. An off season in softball was unknown to me as I decided to commit to travel softball, which was something akin to a full time job. Even on my rare weekend off, I followed college softball like a recruiter and, as a young girl, I wondered why the sport I loved the most didn't have more national and international coverage. The one event I could look forward to as a young softball player was the U.S Softball Team's participation in the 2008 Summer Olympics. After watching every game the U.S softball team played, I learned that the International Olympic Committee cut softball from the Olympics. Over the years there have been campaigns to bring back softball to the Olympics, but I was skeptical that I would ever see another Olympic softball game in my lifetime. Fast forward eight years and my weekends now consist of preparing to pack for college, emailing professors and updating my twitter. There are no more hectic softball weekends. After a decade-run and a decision to discontinue my softball career, the International Olympic Committee has decided to bring softball back to the 2020 Tokyo. I could provide an extensive list as to why it's such a big deal softball is returning to the 2020 Olympics but here are just 5 reasons to give you an idea:
Softball rejoining the 2020 Olympics is another barrier broken for women across the world. It means a chance to win an Olympic medal and bring home glory to their country.
2. Does the National Pro Fast Pitch League sound familiar?
Most people are unaware of the professional softball league in the United States and this may be due to the league's small size. There are only six teams in five states and with a short summer season lasting from June to August, professional athletes are paid less than $10,000 a season. Compared to the millions of dollars that major league baseball players earn, it feels like we're taking a step back in the fight for gender equality (can I get an equal pay for equal play please). As softball steps back into the Olympic spotlight, it gives professional softball an opportunity to expand in the U.S. and around the world.
3. Representation Matters
In 21st century America, the media has become a pseudo third parent. Similarly to the way children look to their parents for guidance, they also look to the media for positive reinforcements. Softball players can't expect to aspire to the Olympics when there aren't any images of softball Olympians in the media. Simply put, representation matters. Unfortunately there aren't enough people who understand its significance. However this will change in 2020 when softball players go from spectators to players in the Olympics. Millions of young girls will find a role model in 2020 and aspire to achieve Olympic greatness.
4. Those Girls Get Dirty
Whoever said girls don't like dirt obviously never met a softball player. My favorite part of playing softball was running the bases and sliding and diving in the dirt. It was the only time when people encouraged me to get dirty and it was a badge of honor to walk off the softball field with as much dirt as possible.
5. Team USA Wants a Rematch
After a crippling loss to the Japanese softball team in 2008, the U.S finished with a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. Team USA has been sitting on the this loss for 8 years now and we want a rematch in 2020. Team USA is coming with the heat and it is no doubt that they're coming to snatch the gold medal in Tokyo.
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