Earlier today, Baseball Australia learned that the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) have not delivered highly anticipated funding increases for high performance, ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Despite baseball returning to the Olympic Games in just three years, the AIS has instead chosen to invest almost $4.2 million in Olympic winter sports and more than $1.0 million in Paralympic winter sports for next year’s Games in PyeongChang, South Korea – representing an increase of $792,000 (23%) and $75,000 (8%) respectively. Ten Paralympic programs have received a boost in funding, most notably Wheelchair Rugby, Canoeing, and Triathlon.
Ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, the Women’s Rugby Sevens program has also received a $500,000 increase in funding (65%) to $1.265M for 2017-18. The Australian women’s netball team ($2.065M) and women’s hockey team ($2.508M) have also been looked upon favorably.
Women’s softball ($1.208M) has also received a boost in funding as it prepares to re-enter Olympic competition in Tokyo 2020.
But what about baseball?
Baseball is set to receive just $415,00 of high performance funding, which is exactly the same figure as it received last year. When factoring in CPI this actually represents a 2.1% decrease.
Some of the sports set to receive more high performance funding from the ASC in 2017-18 than baseball include:
- Lawn Bowls
- Sailing (an absurd $7.55M)
- University Sport (what the fuck is this?)
- Water Polo
The snub for baseball comes despite the sport being healthier than ever before in Australia. In addition to the multiple Australians competing in the Major Leagues this season, many more are battling their way through American’s Minor Leagues. More still are playing in Asia (i.e Japan, Korea) and there’s also a strong contingent playing college ball in the United States.
Further evidence of the growth and success of the sport in recent years is the #8 world ranking Australia currently holds after an impressive World Baseball Classic performance and the success of the Australian U23 team which won a silver medal at the World Cup last November. Little League teams are continually performing above their pay grade and representing our nation with aplomb in major global tournaments, and from an Olympic standpoint, while baseball was last featured in 2008, who could forget Australia’s memorable run in 2004 when it clinched a silver medal?
Baseball within Australia remains the most under-funded Olympic team sport, men or women, by a considerable margin. The ASC and AIS have once again embarrassed themselves and have opened themselves up to the scathing response from a passionate baseball community.