No, Keith Olbermann, we must not “kill” the World Baseball Classic
If you’ve ever wondered why much of the world views Americans as arrogant and disinterested in anything that happens outside of the United States, look no further than Keith Olbermann’s recent tweets. of the World Baseball Classic.
Last week, sports commentator Olbermann unleashed a barrage of tweets New York Mets closer, Puerto Rico’s Edwin Diaz tore his patellar tendon during the postgame celebration. Olbermann he demanded that the World Baseball Classic (WBC) is being shut down because it is “pointless” and designed to get fans to buy more merchandise.
Olbermann later apologized due to the obvious sexism in the original tweet, but there you go continued the call for “killing” the WBC.
As a former national team athlete, there is no greater sense of pride than wearing the name of your country on your chest. The feeling of having the support of an entire nation just because of what is written on your uniform is incomparable.
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Why does the World Baseball Classic matter?
The WBC is baseball’s equivalent of the World Cup or the Olympics. Held every four years, the World Baseball Classic (much like other international tournaments) features players, many of whom are professional players from around the world, playing for their country. The tournament was originally sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, but is now under the jurisdiction of the World Baseball Softball Confederation in partnership with Major League Baseball.
The international competition of professional athletes is often fairly criticized. Professional athletes are paid millions of dollars to dedicate their lives to a franchise – allowing them to participate in these seemingly frivolous ancillary competitions is a significant risk for a team invested in the success of said athletes. Although it is rare, athletes do get injured. Sometimes not seriously, other times season finale Seriously
The thing is, what happened to Edwin Diaz sucks. It’s a sucker for the New York Mets, who lost their closer for the season. Too bad for Mets fans who keep hoping maybe this it will be one year (cute!). And that’s definitely a sucker for Edwin Diaz. But he knew the potential for risk like any other professional athlete who chooses to participate in these events.
Believe it or not, playing baseball is work
It’s easy to forget that these athletes are professionals, which means that it’s their job to show up and perform in front of millions of people every day. While you can pay (and pay very) doing what you love is a huge privilege, but it can also be a burden. International competitions, such as the WBC, provide athletes with the opportunity to reconnect with the sports they love and excel in, and to rediscover their joy.
This is especially true for athletes who are not from the United States. They can play with people who understand them, their language, their culture. Maybe even people they played with growing up or early in their careers. For a few short weeks every four years, they get to relive their youth and represent a country they had to move from in order to live their dreams and, in some cases, support their families.
Who are we fans to demand that the World Baseball Softball Confederation and Major League Baseball, employers of many WBC players, end the tournament because of the relatively low risk of injury affecting their professional seasons? Who are we to say that these players don’t deserve to have fun representing their country again in the sport they love?
The WBC is not about the fans, it’s about the athletes. Diaz’s teammate in Puerto Rico and the Mets, Francisco Lindor, he said the WBC means a lot to them. “I understand how the Mets fans are hurting. But while the regular season matters to so many people, being in the WBC means just as much to all of us,” Lindor said. I don’t blame them. If possible, I would run sprints and do drills all day if it meant I could wear my country on my chest again.
I really hope Keith Olbermann doesn’t have a USA t-shirt to wear on the Fourth of July, what a scam to get people to buy merchandise.
Erin Gee is the founder of d3crypto and host of the upcoming tech and culture podcast Alt-Text. He played for the Canadian Softball team.