The Last Word: The inevitable failures of the IBL

The Israel Baseball League was nothing more than a badly organized disaster waiting to happen.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The news that the Israel Baseball League will not be returning for a second season this June was no big surprise considering the embarrassment of difficulties it faced last summer. It was a sad end to what turned out to be a sorry affair which had many positives but in the end promised too much while delivering all too little. The announcement confirmed the fears that the IBL, which had been over hyped and promoted for months up to its launch in June 2007, was nothing more than a badly organized disaster waiting to happen. It is now time for what is left of the IBL management since the glut of resignations last November to take a wider perspective and realize just where they went wrong and how it would likely be only a good thing if the league does not come back in the same format as last year. The problems were obvious from the beginning. Aside from Opening Day, which attracted over 3,000 supporters, there was hardly any interest from regular Israelis in a league which was run by Americans and almost exclusively for Americans. Throughout the season the announcements were mostly in English, the Hebrew section of the official Web site was poor quality and the fields were difficult to get to. Israelis had little affiliation with the teams made up of players from around the world, just not Israel. Added to that, there wasn't even a Jerusalem team although plans for one to be included in an expanded IBL for the 2008 season were announced a few months ago, before it became obvious that there will not be any such season. Unfortunately it seems that the IBL has not considered taking this to heart and appears convinced that there is still a chance the league will continue in 2008. The main barrier could well be financial, and therefore overcome through a sudden monetary boost. But, even if the league somehow manages to get itself together in just a few short weeks before the start of the new season it had scheduled for itself, it would be a foolish move. The problems were deep and inbred from the start and, unless the league is made much more accessible for local supporters, it will continue to fail. The IBL should take a leaf out of the book of what at first appeared to be its football sister, the Israel Football League. Unlike the baseball league, the IFL is packed with locals playing in its four teams, encouraging far more fan involvement. That the games were played at Jerusalem's Kraft Stadium also helped, but if the IBL is to ever return and become a success it must start small rather than thinking big from the outset like it did last year and therefore setting it up for the all too inevitable fall from grace.