The debate between baseball and softball is neverending, including which is harder, cooler, and the list goes on.
Debates aside, it’s weird to see that there aren’t any women’s professional baseball leagues, nor do girls play baseball but on very rare occasions. Why do girls play softball instead of baseball?
Generally, women play softball because there are no professional women’s baseball leagues, they can’t play baseball in educational institutes that receive federal funding if softball is provided, and because of smaller fields with shorter throwing distances.
There are women playing baseball in non-official, recreational, and hobbyist leagues and groups. But baseball is rarely provided for women in high schools and colleges without talking about the non-existence of a women’s professional baseball league.
Thus, women are practically forced to play softball instead of baseball, which many enjoy and are annoyed by some.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the three core reasons women play softball instead of baseball.
Related: Ultimate Guide of 17 Softball Drills
Why Do Women Play Softball Instead of Baseball?
Title IX, lack of professional baseball leagues, and smaller field sizes are all reasons why women need or want to play baseball instead of softball. Let’s start with the most significant one, if you ask me, Title IX.
1. Title IX
On its own, the term Title IX doesen’t say much. However, it will answer most of your questions when I open it up. So, what is Title IX?
Title IX is a law that became effective in 1972. The meaning of this federal civil rights law (United States) is to prevent sex-based discrimination in any school or other educational institute that receives federal funding from the government.
This is great without question; however, it doesen’t work so well when it comes to baseball and softball.
You know, an education institute must provide teams for both genders if the school has a sport for either one. Of course, this is based on interest, and in case of lack of it, resources arent wasted in vain.
However, most high schools and colleges doesen’t provide both sports for both genders as they are too similar, which is why baseball is usually provided for buys and softball for girls, ruling out Title IX in this case.
Is this unfair? Practically yes. Does this bother many women? Some it does, but most are fine with it. That is because most girls would rather play softball anyways, especially in the modern day.
This is because of the following two reasons why women play softball instead of baseball, and the bigger one is the lack of pro baseball opportunities for women.
2. Lack of Professional Baseball Leagues for Women
The second biggest reason girls play softball, and men’s baseball is that there are no professional baseball leagues for women, but there are many for men.
In history, softball and baseball have become so differentiated by gender, which is why in the 2020 era, there is no need for a women’s baseball league. Instead, a women’s fastpitch softball league called National Pro Fastpitch (NPF).
There is one big injustice in this: the potential earnings for the pro softball and baseball player. It’s widely known that women and men are far from earning the same amount from the same practice time and success simply because so many more people watch men’s pro leagues instead of women’s.
However, the earning gap is surprisingly large between baseball and softball. For example, the top baseball players can earn over $40 million annually. In contrast, only one person in softball history has earned a $1 million contract, and even that was spread out across six years.
The difference is mind-boggling, but there is a chance to make a living in softball for women, whereas that would be impossible in baseball.
The lack of a pro baseball league for women hasn’t always been so. In fact, from 1943 to 1954, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was operational, but it was unable to continue in 1955 and afterward.
3. Smaller Fields
The third and final reason women play softball instead of baseball is the field size.
As we all know, men, on average, are physically more capable in strength and speed than women. This is especially true when it comes to professional athletes from similar sports.
The pitching distance in softball is 43ft, whereas 60ft in baseball. Also, the baselines are 60ft long in softball and 90ft in baseball. Thus, the distances are generally more suitable for both genders, making them more enjoyable to play.
However, by any means, doesen’t this mean that softball is easier than baseball. In fact, it’s been proven that softball is harder than baseball because of the shorter reaction times, although very tight.
All things considered, these are the three reasons why women play softball and men’s baseball.
Why Was Softball Created?
Let’s go back in time and see why softball was created in the first place, as most of us know that it takes root in baseball.
Softball was created in 1887 to play baseball during the cold months of winter. That’s why it was originally called ”indoor baseball”.
Baseball needed some alterations when it was first taken inside as there were no real baseball field-sized indoor halls. The regular baseball was too fast and powerful indoors, so the ball was made heavier and bigger. That’s why softball fields are smaller and the balls bigger to this day.
Note that softball didn’t get the name softball until the 1920s. That’s why there are many other names for softball as well.
When indoor baseball was first created, it wasn’t even a year when the sport was taken outdoors, and the evolution of softball began. The sport wasn’t meant for women during and slightly after its invention. Let’s learn more about that next.
When Did Softball Become a Women’s Sport?
Given that softball was originally for men and has been some time since its invention, when did it become a sport for women?
Softball became a women’s sport in 1895 when the first official team was organized, after eight years of the sport’s creation. In 1910, softball became an NCAA sanctioned sport for college, and in 2004, professional fastpitch softball began its operation.
Considering these dates, it depends on what you mean when asking when softball became a women’s sport. In 1895, women first played softball in a real organized team; however, only in 1910 did softball become a collegiate sport for women. Almost 100 years later, the professional fastpitch softball began, which is the real deal of softball.
Be that as it may, women have played softball over a hundred years in some form, but only a fraction of that in a professional manner.
Why Are There No Female Players In Baseball?
In today’s world, there are no rules against women playing serious baseball, such as at the collegiate level or even in Major League Baseball. If this is true, how come there are no females playing baseball?
There are no female baseball players at the collegiate or MLB level because they can’t realistically compete with men. Men baseball players in their prime are considerably faster and stronger than women in the same spectrum, which leads to only male baseball players.
This might be difficult to accept in the modern era, and I might come off as a douchebag for someone, but that’s a fact. If I’m wrong, why aren’t female players in baseball as MLB doesen’t ban women from playing in the league, unlike in the 50s?
There are other reasons for this, such as the possibility of playing softball. A whopping 85.1% of softball players are women, which explains why there aren’t women playing baseball and why they might not even pursue that path.
Be that as it may, MLB is open for women, so if you’re a baseball star, give it a shot!
Why Do Men Play Softball?
In my recent article, I went through whether boys can play softball. As it turns out, they can, with some restrictions, but why some men play softball is another question.
Men play softball for various reasons, including more adult recreational players, a bigger, less dense ball and shorter baselines that can make it less risky and threatening, and mixed-gender teams common in slowpitch softball. Many men consider baseball testosterone-driven and softball more welcoming.
The men who choose to play softball instead of baseball usually doesen’t take the sport as seriously because there are no professional softball leagues for men. Men who play softball often do it as a hobby and fun, with many benefits.
The benefits include mixed-gender teams, which can make sports more fun and, well, mixed. Also, the ball is bigger, less dense, and thrown considerably slower underhand, which makes it less threatening. Third, the baselines are shorter, so there isn’t as much running, which can be good as many people like to implement drinking for casual softball games.
But the biggest reason of all probably is that more adults in the United States play softball recreationally than baseball.
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.