Softball made a return to the Olympics last year for the 2020 Games after being away since 2008. But the addition of softball was only a one-time thing as the sport will not be included in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, softball legend and two-time Olympic medalist Jennie Finch shared her reaction to the Olympics not adding softball to the upcoming games.
"It's devastating for our sport, just the consistency being not there because honestly having been part of the Olympic movement and the Olympics when I did [in 1996], 2000, and then I joined in 2004 and 2008, just to see the game evolve around the world in those 16 years was incredible" Finch exclusively told PopCulture. "And then when that Olympic funding gets wiped away for so many countries, there goes all of the funding for training and the grassroot level. And so, unfortunately, it's been rough. It's been tough on our sport, but hopefully, we can continue to press on and hopefully get it back in for 2028 and keep our fingers crossed and hopefully find a solid position in the Olympic games in the future."
But why won't softball be featured in the Paris Olympics? The International Olympic Committee said softball and baseball were dropped from the 2012 and 2016 Olympics because there wasn't enough global participation and the best players weren't participating. Softball made its Olympic debut in 1996 when the event was in Atlanta. It then was featured in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 games, and the United States won three gold medals and one silver medal during that span. In the 2020 Olympics, the United States won the silver medal again while Japan took home gold.
Softball may not be included in the Olympics in two years, but it will likely return in 2028 when Los Angeles hosts the games. Finch, who won a gold and silver medal in her softball Olympic career, is hoping that happens so she can be a part of the festivities.
"Growing up in LA and being able to see it back in the Olympics and we're going to have to do everything we can to put on a good show and hopefully prove our solidity in the games," Finch said. "And so I hope to be there, yes. With all the bells and whistles and cheering on Team USA. And, honestly, every athlete that represents our sport if we get that platform back, which we're hoping for."