Softball vs. Baseball the Controversy

Meagan KingBaseball, SoftballLeave a Comment

Why is there a softball versus baseball debate?

There is a great deal of debate when it comes to the idea of softball. It is an alternative to baseball that happens to be played primarily by the female sex. That is only the base definition though. There are actually quite a few differences in this game as opposed to baseball, and in this article, we will attempt to understand why people find the idea of playing softball as opposed to baseball a controversial idea.

When comparing softball to baseball, the differences at first appear to be minor.

Some of the differences include:

  • Ball for baseball being smaller and harder compared to softballs that are bigger and softer.
  • Differences in inning amount
  • Differences in field build and size
  • Pitching techniques
  • Salary differences

And a few others that haven’t made this particular list at this point in time.

Differences in the Balls:

Softballs are made to be the safer and more feminized version of a baseball. Therefore, the design is essentially the same stylistically.

Similarities include:

  • The stitches
  • Materials
  • Colour (Provided it’s an official games in a number of different channels)

The ways which softballs differ from the baseballs that create some amount of outrage. The reasoning behind this is that people think the ball and differences in the sport when compared to baseball are meant to be a subtle message. In some ways, this is true.

The ball is bigger, making it easier to hit. Compared to a standard baseball, which is nine or so inches in width, a softball can be in the ten and eleven, sometimes even fourteen to sixteen inch range. This is a substantial size difference, something that if used in professional baseball games, well I am sure you can picture the decrease in strikes the players would get. It can be viewed as an insult and it adds to the controversy of the sport, why does the game force its players to use a bigger ball that is easier to hit? Is it because it is a game primarily for woman?

That is not even the only difference when it comes to the ball. We also have the softness issue. If you have ever held a softball and compared it to a baseball, you know what this is amount. The softball is aptly named. The density of a softball in comparison to a baseball is no joke. You cannot push into a baseball very well, but with a softball, you can. This difference can say many things. Why is the ball softer for the ‘woman’s’ sport? Are woman thought to be too delicate the handle a ball as hard as the baseball? These are questions that we cannot answer, but I can tell you right now that having played softball myself, as well as having been hit by a baseball, the pain difference is minor and not noticeable – Just as fuel for your thoughts.

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There is also another difference when it comes to the balls. Softballs are yellow!

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As opposed to their baseball counterpart, the softball is practically a ball of sun when it is coming at you. It is as if someone is saying, hey, I know you can barely catch anyway, so let us add this little handy cap! This issue is not always something that comes up, as there are white balls as well. However, Google Images shows us a sad story when you search ‘softball’ into their engine. Not a single white ball until nearly the fourth line of images, and even then, it is not a real ball, just a drawing of one. Just one more thing to add to the pool of controversy when comparing these two sports.


Differences in the Softball Innings:

A very clear message is sent when you look at the difference in innings between a professional baseball games, and compare it with the inning number in a professional softball game. Baseball games traditionally last nine innings, although it differences across the board, and more notably, there are six innings in a baseball little league game. If you do not know what little league is you can check out the website here Essentially, though, it is a game for the little kids of the baseball world.

Softball games traditionally have seven innings, five of them in some different collages. This paints a grim picture.  We can compare the innings of a softball game to the innings in a child’s little league game. Sometimes there is one more innings; sometimes there is actually one LESS inning. Softball players are not children, yet they play for the same amount as one? This is a direct add to our controversy reasoning bin.

Differences in Field Build:

In baseball, we look at the field and see 90-foot base lines, a pitching mound, and the length, which the pitching mound is located in comparison with the home plate, is 60 feet give or take a few inches. Keeping in mind that this is a sport, you SHOULD have to run a considerable distance, and you should have to be able to through far is you are the pitcher. This makes it saddening when I have to add into the controversy-reasoning bin as I compare the two.

In softball, there is a 60-foot or so baseline. Meaning, less running, and less athletic work, and why? It is a sport, is it not? In softball, there also is not a pitching mound; there is either a pitching rubber or nothing at all but a circle. (This was actually counterproductive in my own experience, because I was forced to practice on baseball fields, then go and play on a softball field, and I was the pitcher! I was used to playing on mounds, and when the actual game came, I was SOL so to speak.) Finally, the pitching distance is a measly 40 feet.

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The differences here are almost insulting. I can take the balls, I can even take the innings, but why would you take away from what makes a sport a sport? You are meant to have to be in a certain physical condition to play; you are MEANT to have to run and such. Taking away from that is not only insulting to the people that play, but also has no meaning behind it. Why was it created that way? There are a few reasons I could think of.

To start, the reasoning I hope caused this issue. Softball at some point was actually an indoors sport. If that is the reason that the bases were closer, then it makes sense. There is not as much room inside as there is on an actual field. It would have been logical to make these rules (Although not to keep them, there is no excuse for that.)

The next possible explanation would be that it is a game for a woman, so again the makers felt the need to break it down so that the woman that played did not have to do so much work. Their dainty female bodies could not handle it, right? To be clear, I am not attempting to go full on feminist with this point of view, I just think that the sport is just that, a sport! It should be physically challenging. Still, really it is just another thing to add to the controversy bin.

Differences in Pitching:

I will be utterly honest here and say I have no idea why this difference exists. In baseball, the rule is to through overhand, whereas in softball the rule is to pitch underhand. So to explain for those who have not played, baseball throws are from an up position, toward the down position, and an under pitches are from a lower position, into an upper position.

I can theorize that the reason behind the difference in pitching allowance has to do with the speed that an overhand pitch came go. Fastballs are over 90 MPH, and this is why softball is pitched underhand. I can theorize this by looking back up into the differences in the makeup of the field. The pitcher in softball is an average of 20 feet closer to the batter than they would be in baseball. It would be hard for even professional baseball players to hit a fastball when it is that close to them. Still it is a difference worth mentioning, one that comes up a lot if you are actually a softball pitcher.

Differences in Pay:

I could write a whole article on just this alone.

The difference in pay when it comes to baseball vs. softball is no joke. From the projection of an average softball player’s salary which I found here you can compare the numbers.

An average softball players salary is in the 5000$ range for a season.

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An average baseball player can get something like this, “players earning an average of $4.25 million — and often traveling on chartered flights and staying in nice hotels — still get over $100 per day for meal money underscores” from the website here

Therefore, even if a baseball player made only 1 million dollars a year, they would still come out around 200 TIMES the amount that a softball player makes. I have absolutely no idea what is behind this discrepancy, besides the obvious popularity difference between the two sports. Still, this makes softball players some of the worst paid athletes around.

Controversy Conclusion:

There are many different reasons why the differences between softball and baseball are usually looked at with disdain. The differences almost seem like they are an insult upon the athletes that play the game. Yet somehow, these are not the only differences that there are when comparing these two sports. That is what I would like to leave this article on.

These two sports are just that, two different sports. This compare and contrast seems insulting, pointing out all the differences for a sport that seems to be pushed down and thought down upon. That is why I feel it is important for all the readers to realize this. These are actually two different sports.

If you looked at softball without knowing a thing about baseball, would you think that there was anything wrong with it?

No you would not, because there are not any issues with it until we start to compare it with baseball. If you did not know a thing about baseball and you saw a slightly bigger ball, a smaller field, a pitching style that uses underhand techniques, you would not think a single thing was wrong with it.

Even when comparing the two DIFFERENT sports, there still is not anything wrong with it. Most of these ‘controversial issues’ are actually something that could have just come from the fact that the game originated as an indoor sport. You can find out more about the history of softball, as well as its roots as being an indoor sport here

So really, it is not even far to compare these two sports at all. (Despite the fact I just did it, wow maybe I should rethink ending this article like this) the likenesses between the two are just because softball is BASED on baseball, it is not meant to be exactly like it. To farther debunk the idea that it is a feminism issue, softball is NOT just a sport for females. There is a list of male softball players from everyone’s favourite, Wikipedia

This list includes names like:

  • Ray Chandler
  • Filomeno Codiñera
  • Buddy Corlett

So really, there is no controversy needed on this subject, right?


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