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In 2020, baseball and softball will return to the Olympics after a twelve-year absence. Leading the effort to secure reinstatement was the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the international governing body for the two sports established in 2013 upon the merging of the International Baseball Federation and the International Softball Federation. Faced with continual threats of Olympic exclusion, the WBSC offers a unique model of global governance in that one federation is in charge of two very different sports. The history and work of the WBSC is made more complicated by the gendered bifurcation of baseball and softball, and systemic cultural beliefs that mark baseball as male and softball as female. Utilizing this gendered tension as a guiding framework, this article traces the emergence of the WBSC and suggests that the global governance of two sports under the single banner of the WBSC risks reproducing long-standing gender stereotypes and assumptions.
The author is with the Department of Kinesiology and Health, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA.