IOC Decision on Softball (as it Relates to Team Handball)

Several news articles discussing the IOC’s recent decision in Turin to not reinstate Baseball and Softball have referenced Team Handball as an example of a sport not nearly as worthy of a spot on the Olympic program.

While this context is certainly American centric there is also a significant amount of truth to the argument that Team Handball is simply a European sport. On the Women’s side, outside of South Korea, and a little noise recently made by Brazil, the sport has been dominated by European teams. On the Men’s side, outside of a little noise by Egypt and more recently Tunisia, the sport is also dominated by European sides. For more discourse on the sport’s popularity check my earlier blog entry:

Team Handball passed an IOC vote last summer, but at some point in the future there will be another vote taken on the sport’s Olympic future. And while the IOC may have disproportionate European membership now, this will probably not always be the case. Hopefully, the IHF is getting this message and we will soon see more aggressive steps to market the sport world-wide.

3 thoughts on “IOC Decision on Softball (as it Relates to Team Handball)

  1. Actually, the two articles axhibit such a strong bias borderline on childish pouting, that they cannot really be taken seriously. Written from the perspective of North Americans who really don't know any sports outside of the "big 4", Until I watched the Olympics in the US (2004), I didn't even know Baseball/Softball had become Olympic! And, in contrast to NBC, the TV channels in Europe show virtually every competition (and not only the NBC sports track, gymnastics, swimming and basketball).
    I'm sure, if the authors of these articles knew how many sports there actually are and how world-wide most of them are, the articles would look different. Team handball is actually on the sports curriculum in most European, Latin-American, African and Asian schools, so even if their National Teams may not be strong, in contrast to the US, almost everybody on these continents at least knows the sport. I doubt that Baseball/Softball is even close in continent coverage. from my perspective, Team Handball isn't even close to losing its spot at the Olympics.
    Be it as it may, John is definitely right that the IHF should start seeing global development as a major goal for the sport. If other sports are growing, Team Handball may soon come close to losing its spot, even if it isn't there now. Who knows where the other sports will be by 2024?

  2. In defence of the National Pastime, a pretty good case can be made that Baseball is a more global sport than Team Handball. With professional leagues in Japan, South Korea and all over Latin America and the multi-national rosters of Major League Baseball, it’s pretty evident that the sport is more than just the US. In terms of crowd attendance, TV and radio broadcasting the numbers are not even close between the two sports. That being said, baseball’s popularity is truly insignificant in Europe and hence Bjoern’s lack of awareness. And I must say that while the French main channel broadcast was broader in terms of coverage than NBC, I don’t remember seeing any Baseball. They did enjoy broadcasting USA Basketball losses though.

  3. I guess it's still a matter of opinion which sport is "more global". From what little I know I'd guess a large precentage of people in South-America, Afrika, Europe and Asia have played team ahndball at one point or another in school. I doubt that many people have played Baseball around the globe.
    With Brazilians, Tunisians, Cubans, South Koreans, Russians (to a large pat outside of Europe), Egyptians, US-Americans, Greenlanders (only to name a few) playing in the various European leagues, team handball is also more than just Europe.
    I think it becomes clear that the major asymmetry in the sports is actually perspective: while there is a political EU, Europe is not united culturally and every country fields their own sports teams. Thus, the number of Nations with regular handball league play and amateur player participationvastly outstrips the number of countries playing Baseball. If you lump all of Europe together (which, from a certain perspective makes sense), the difference shrinks considerably.
    The EHF and the IHF need to realize the trend in seeing Europe as one entity and develop handball in non-European countries!

Comments are closed.