World Baseball Classic

Bryce Harper on representing U.S. at 2028 Olympics: ‘It’s always a dream’

Bryce Harper on representing U.S. at 2028 Olympics: 'It's always a dream'

Baseball will be returning to the Olympics when the Games come to Los Angeles in 2028, and Philadelphia Phillies superstar Bryce Harper is dreaming about being part of Team USA.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Philadelphia's Game 1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS, Harper, who turned 31 on Monday, expressed interest in participating in 2028, but only if he's wanted on the team (he'll be 35 then) and MLB allows players to take part.

"Yeah, my wife actually had a hair appointment this morning, and she texted me happy birthday with that," Harper said. "But she said, 'Hey, I guess one of your birthday wishes forever got the Olympics back in 2028.'

"I will be old at that point, so I don't know if they're going to want me to be on the team, but it's always a dream. I mean, I think it's everybody's dream to be in the Olympics. Especially it coming here, being able to do that, I would hope that Major League Baseball — and I don't know if they ever will or if they do or ownerships or anything like that — you talk about growing the game, and that's the way you grow it at the highest peak. You let guys that are playing in the league take that break just like in the NHL and see what happens."

Harper missed the 2023 World Baseball Classic while rehabbing from offseason elbow surgery. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Olympic baseball dates back to 1904 but did not become a medal sport until 1992. After appearing in five consecutive Games, the sport — along with softball, which featured from 1996 to 2008 — was removed in 2012.

While baseball and softball were featured at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, neither sport will be at the Paris Games next summer before they return for 2028 in L.A.

MLB and the MLB Players Association played a role in getting both sports included for 2028, per The Athletic's Evan Drellich. But the possibility of team owners allowing an extended break midsummer and shortening the 162-game regular-season schedule to let players participate seems very, very unlikely.

As Harper touched on, the NHL, in conjunction with the NHL Players Association, paused midseason to allow players to take part in five Olympic Games from 1998 to 2014. Concerns about injuries, insurance costs, the league being unable to get any cut of revenues and COVID-19 issues for the 2022 Beijing Games iced NHL out players of participating.

(The NHL and the NHLPA have been working on an agreement to send players to the 2026 Milan Olympics.)

Harper has not represented the United States while at the professional level and missed out on being part of the 2023 World Baseball Classic — which is operated by MLB and takes place during spring training — as he was rehabbing from elbow surgery.

There is a lot of time between now and 2028. Who knows where Harper will be in his career when the Olympics return to Los Angeles, but he can continue dreaming.

"I mean, I think it would be really cool. I think it would be a lot of fun," Harper said. "I don't know if they'll ever go for it, but I would love to put USA on my chest and represent it at the highest level.

"I know the WBC, and everybody loves that, and it's great for the game, but it's not the Olympics. It's not what it's supposed to be. But, you know, it would be really cool."


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