Funding Will Impact Olympic Team’s New Training ScheduleUSA Softball
Funding a nationwide Olympic tour when the economy was booming required a lot of resourcefulness by USA Softball.
Trying to piece together something similar given the financial freefall resulting from the coronavirus pandemic is likely impossible.
The one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games until the summer of 2021 has significantly shifted the game plan for Team USA.
Rather than barnstorming around the country to prepare for softball’s return to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, head coach Ken Ericksen said exhibition games will likely “be a bonus for us.”
For now, the Olympic players will try to find their own ways to train and stay in shape. Over the last few weeks, many have signed with professional leagues and independent pro teams to play games whenever it’s safe to return to the field.
Team USA was in the midst of the Stand Beside Her Tour, which was expected to reach 35 cities, when the sports world was shuttered and the remainder of the stops were canceled by the global health pandemic.
Funding for the tour relied on multiple different entities, including presenting sponsor Major League Baseball. Colleges and other host sites paid to bring Team USA to the location, and were able to keep the resulting ticket revenue.
At a time when nearly every college is facing budget cuts and an uncertain financial future, spending money to host Team USA seems untenable.
“The amount of training we have is going to be modified for us. We are going to have to be creative to be able to work within the means we have,” Eriksen said. “We could do whatever we want if we had all the money in the world, but when you have to rely on sponsorships and the softball community for donations, sometimes it can be tough.”
Eriksen took a leave of absence from his head coaching position at the University of South Florida for the 2019-20 season to coach Team USA. But he will not be extending his leave, and will have to juggle both roles in the lead up to Tokyo.
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