Photo: Pakutaso

Sports-playing Japanese junior high students at an all-time low, survey finds

By Shannon, SoraNews24

Many Japanese children may dream of becoming a pro soccer player or baseball player, but a new study finds that dream may change for many once they get to junior high school.

An NHK survey that looked at 29 types of sports teams across Japan found that membership in sports clubs, or bukatsu in Japanese, is at an all-time low in 37 prefectures. The national average is also at its lowest, with 59.6 percent of students in sports-related bukatsu.

Some of the lowest membership rates were seen in Nara Prefecture, at just 50.7 percent, Nagano Prefecture, at 51 percent, and Fukuoka Prefecture, at 54.2 percent. But even prefectures with high membership rates of over 70 percent, like Iwate Prefecture, are still at an all-time low in comparison to previous years.

There are a number of reasons this could be occurring, experts say. A major one could be the declining birthrate. Fewer students means fewer team members. This can lead to not meeting the minimum team size requirement to play in competitions or even dissolving teams that can’t gather enough members to practice.

Another contributing factor could be a growing number of schools switching from compulsory to optional membership as per national student demand. Until recent years, many schools required all students to participate in some sort of bukatsu, which are typically held for several hours after school at least several times a week, including weekends for some.

Netizens also chimed in with their theories and reactions:

“Joining some teams can cost a lot of money, and some coaches can overdo it.”

“That means less overtime for some teachers!”

“The future generation isn’t looking too promising.”

“Maybe they don’t want to play sports while wearing masks.”

“They should make it easier and more fun by reducing bukatsu to just a couple of times a week for an hour each.”

Professor Ryo Uchida of Nagoya Graduate University, an expert in bukatsu, suggested revising the bukatsu system altogether when it comes to sports. “I expect this trend to continue, but I also think it’s good that the sports teams accused of going overboard with their practices are being revised.”

In an age where everything about Japanese schools is changing, like loosening gendered uniform rules, this can be considered yet another sign of the times for many.

Source: NHK via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Teacher says Japanese schools’ mandatory extracurricular activity rules don’t benefit students

-- Japanese student athletes facing criticism for selling pro baseball team’s gifts of dirt online

-- Petition started to stop forcing students to cheer for their high school baseball teams

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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There's a rather large cost involved here... for the Parents. And Children are so flip-flop in what they like/don't like, if you haven't entered a sport by Junior high - then ... the cost is a factor that any Parent will consider, especially nowadays.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe a lot of them are just playing video games and find that more participating than watching or cheering someone else do something.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Until recent years, many schools required all students to participate in some sort of bukatsu, which are typically held for several hours after school at least several times a week, including weekends for some.

If this rings true for all students, I'm not at all surprised the number of participants have dropped. Who wants such a grueling schedule, especially when you're a kid? When do they get time to be a kid and do kid things? Nuts. And on weekends too? I see Japan's horrendous working culture of work being their entire life starts in schools. Sad and tragic.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Very good because playing sports or becoming an athlete is not worth losing your childhood. When a pandemic comes, they become useless.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

We've got a JHS son who belongs to a sports club. It's a small school, which places a limit on any ambitions they may have, but they still do lots of practices. Some of the other parents think there should be more and are quick to blame others' lack of effort for holding their kids back. If the coach gives the kids time off, such parents will try to set up unsupervised practices (jishuren) anyway. My son's sport is not a dangerous one, but unsupervised practices carry the risk that if a kid gets concussed, no-one will know what to do.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Maybe they are all tired of being Bullied by the coaches !

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They really do overdo it for many teams and clubs. So many of my students loved the game but hated the non-stop schedule. Regardless of which sport, many complained of burn out. Most averaged only two or three days off a month from practice or games. (The coaches were also often burnt out.)

Training research is way behind the times here. It's when the body is at rest that it repairs, rebuilds and improves after training and playing.

They need to reduce the time they force these kids to devote the bukatsu. 1.5 to 2 hours a day - five days a week max. If there's a tournament on Saturday, make Friday really short and easy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

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