Although baseball is, “America’s favorite pastime”, the sport has gained traction around the globe. With spring training around the corner, baseball fans are gearing up for the MLB season, but what about baseball on a global level?
With the recent first American championship win against Puerto Rico, 8-0, at the World Baseball Classic; which for those who aren’t aware, this is baseball’s attempt at a World Cup in response to baseball being removed from the Olympic Games; I wanted to explore baseball as a global sport. Looking at the distinguished level of play at this year’s World Baseball Classic, I think it’s clear that the sport of baseball is globalizing.
Thinking about baseball as a former Olympic Sport, and now, since its founding in 2005, the World Baseball Classic; it’s apparent that baseball as a sport is in a long-standing transition of globalization.
The quintessential American sport has been shifting for years to other nations with talented players waiting for their moment to shine.
Many Americans aren’t aware that baseball is a sport that is enjoyed and played by many accomplished athletes outside of the USA. Many great Major League Baseball (MLB) players have come from nations outside of the United States. Some famous players include Alex Liddi from Italy, Didi Gregorius from the Netherlands, Nori Aoki from Japan, Chris Reed from the United Kingdom, and loads more from other nations around the world.
The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) was founded in 1938. This shows baseball has historically been going global for nearly a century.
So, what are some major challenges with baseball taking off like wildfire across the international market? Why is the spread seemingly such a slow process? A major factor, according to experts, is the overwhelming popularity of different sports; most notably soccer, in international sports markets. Soccer, or fútbol, dominates many global markets of children and prospective athlete’s interest. The majority with a desire to play sports aside from baseball effects the growth of the sport globally.
Another pitfall to the spread of baseball internationally is the lack of leagues and resources available. Many nations do not offer little leagues or higher level leagues, staffing and coaches. This quickly stifles prospective baseball all-stars from reaching their full potential.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic’s recent completion; I think it’s safe to say that the sport of baseball is growing. Slow but steady!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this food-for-thought on the growth and spread of baseball globally.
What are your thoughts on baseball’s growth as a sport? Leave a comment down below! We’d love to hear from you.