|Don Porter - President, International Softball Federation|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 07 June 2013 15:53
Don has served as president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) since 1987, and has been re-elected five times since. Prior to that he served as the first Secretary-General of the ISF elected in 1965.
Softball has a joint bid with baseball to be included in the 2020 Olympic Games. Their bid survived the cut at the SportAccord Convention in May and they will compete against wrestling and squash for Olympic recognition.
He has also served as the first secretary general of the World Games and he currently chairs SportAccord’s (formerly GAISF) "Sporting Goods To Go" (SGTG) program and SportAccord Awards Commission.
When did you join ISF and what was your biggest challenge when you walked through the door?
I joined the ISF back in the early 1960s when the federation was first being formed to develop softball internationally. So I’ve been involved for quite some time and really I have had an opportunity to see our sport grow from a recreation playground sport in the USA, to a worldwide, global sport. I am very pleased to be involved in that aspect of our game.
I was elected as president in 1987 and the sport has developed very well. It has expanded from about 30-40 countries at that time to up to 80-85.
Softball has merged with baseball to bid for the 2020 Olympics. You are still in the running after the SportAccord Convention, how happy are you with the outcome and are you confident?
We are very excited and overwhelmed at the process at the SportAccord Convention. You never know what the result might be until you hear. Our whole team who were there for the presentations to the IOC Executive Board were all very emotional and I think that can be said for all the other sports. We look forward now to a new campaign and we are cautiously optimistic about it. We have a tough road ahead with two really good sports in wrestling and squash competing against us. We have really got to work hard and we will make every effort to get our sport back onto the Olympic programme.
What part of the bid do you think particularly impressed the IOC?
Overall it was the idea that the two sports coming together as one, with two disciplines and the opportunity to really show some added value that we can bring to the Olympics. Professional baseball brings a strong commercial side and there is also the ability to bring women into the Games. There are a number of things that we think represent a good case to bring baseball and softball back into the Olympic programme.
Those aspects you mentioned, do you think you have that more than wrestling and squash?
I would not say we have it more so as those sports have their own opportunities to develop what they are going to present and I think we are all trying to convince the majority of the IOC members that we should be back in the Olympics.
How important is it for the sport to be in the Olympics?
It is very important because we want to continue to develop our sports in a lot of countries. There are still a lot of countries where baseball/softball aren’t played. We want to open doors and get young people, girls and boys, to be able to learn and play our sport. The opportunity is there but especially if you are in the Olympics. We are excited about the opportunity.
Would the two sports stay merged if you are not successful in September? Is there a plan in place if you do not receive the answer you are looking for?
We are going to continue to work together because we think that is the best way forward for the two disciplines. We are not going to give up and we still have a lot of things we want to achieve. Like I said there are a lot of countries we want to open up to and give their young children a chance to play our sport. But it does help if you have Olympic recognition because it opens doors that you wouldn’t have if you are not in the Olympics.
If you are successful, what is the vision for the sport in 2020? How will it be different to the separate baseball & softball events at Beijing 2008?
It will be a lot different. We have already made changes and we will continue to make changes in both disciplines that will make them more interesting and attractive, both to the spectator and the media. We are going to make sure the timings of the two games fit in the window for television and we have some ideas on changes that will make our sport really attractive from several different stand points. We have been and will continue to work on these to improve our sports.
What’s next for the bid? How will you push on to the decision date in September?
We are getting our team from SportAccord back together shortly and we will bring all the members of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) together to get any suggestions and ideas and find the way that is going to get the IOC’s attention. We have a very strong and positive bid and I think it will bring real added value to the Olympic programme.