Friday, March 30, 2007

Canada sees its baseball success linked to Olympics funding

But while baseball's popularity and the number of Canadian players in the pipeline are on the rise, problems loom under the surface.

The removal of baseball from the 2012 Olympic program means Baseball Canada will be facing a cash crunch in 2008 and beyond, an issue that threatens its productive national junior team program.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Sport Canada provide funding to various Canadian governing sports bodies to help athletes in pursuit of Olympic medals. That money - nearly $300,000 annually for Baseball Canada, more than 17 per cent of its budget - disappears after the Beijing Games.

Further, promising players who are part of, or prospects for, the Canadian Olympic baseball team program will no longer be eligible for national card status, which provides athletes with a financial stipend.

The trickle-down effects of the financial losses could help push young players away from baseball, particularly during the critical 15-16 age range when elite athletes begin zeroing in on one sport.

If the scenario unfolds like that, many of the gains made over the past few years would quickly be lost.


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