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Japanese TV issues heatstroke alert, says to avoid exercise, but keeps showing high school baseball game

28 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japanese television programs love putting all sorts of text and graphics on-screen. It’s something sports broadcasts have always been especially fond of, and even since long before overseas broadcasters adopted the practice, baseball on TV in Japan resembled a video game, with a constant display of the score, inning, pitch count, and baserunner status.

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So when this year’s summer Koshien national high school baseball tournament opened last Sunday, people tuning in to watch it on TV naturally expected to see lots of telops, as Japan calls the onscreen overlays. But things took a surreal turn as one specific type of overlay kept showing up.

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See the first three characters in the above overlay, 熱中症? Those are the kanji for nechuusho, or heatstroke. Japan is currently in the middle of a severe heat wave, and the temperature in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, where the Koshien tournament takes place, hit a daytime high of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday. And no, this wasn’t a dry heat – like most of Japan, Hyogo is both hot and humid in the summer. So throughout the game, viewers saw overlays notifying them of a heatstroke caution (熱中症警戒).

Things got even more surreal when national broadcaster NHK put up an overlay, seen in the photo below, saying “In principle, let’s suspend or postpone outside exercise” as the two teams of teens continued the contest.

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In its coverage of the opening game between Ibaraki Prefecture’s Tsuchiura Nihon University High School and Nagano Prefecture’s Ueda Nishi High School, NHK put up different overlays for different parts of the country. For Hyogo, it went beyond the “heatstroke caution” to “heatstroke caution alert” (熱中症警戒アラート)

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One of the warnings also included the unsettling, though wise, advice of “In the case of severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, call an ambulance.”

With this summer being especially hot, the tournament has introduced a 10-minute “cooling time” period after games’ fifth inning, roughly the half-way point. The teams’ benches also have cooling fans installed behind them, and ice vests and neck coolers are also available. None of that has much effect when the players are playing the game, though. Just after the end of the sixth inning, when Tsuchiura Nihon University High had been fielding, one of the team’s players collapsed and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. The team’s coach later said that the boy had fallen because of a leg or foot cramp, a condition that can be triggered or intensified due to dehydration. The coach said that the boy’s body temperature at the time was measured at around 45 degrees Celsius.

Tsuchiura Nihon University High would go on to win the game by a score of 8 to 3.

Self-sacrifice and playing through pain are big parts of Japan’s sports ethos, especially for youth sports and especially for baseball. Still, the jarring juxtaposition of being told “It’s too dangerously hot to exercise outside” at the same time as “Watch these kids competing in the midday sun!” is prompting social media reactions such as

“This makes no sense at all.”

“Are [the organizers’] brains functioning?”

“Shouldn’t this qualify as abuse?”

“There’s something wrong about this.”

“You wouldn’t still have a baseball under a storm warning [so why would you under a heatstroke alert], right?”

“I’m not just worried about the players, I’m worried about the people in the stands too.”

With representative teams from all of Japan’s 47 prefectures gathering for the tournament, and families, faculty, and classmates also attending, one could argue that Koshien, logistically, can only be held during the summer vacation period. What seems like it could be done, though, is to play at least some of the games at night. For this year’s tournament, the earliest game start time is 8 a.m., and no game has a starting time later than 3:45 p.m. It’s still blisteringly hot at 3:45 in the afternoon, though, and shifting some games back a few hours, say, one starting at dusk and another completely after sundown, would go a long way in preventing heatstroke.

Such a shift wouldn’t be without difficulties, though. All of the Koshien games are played on the same field, which means they have to be played one at a time. With Koshien Stadium being such hallowed ground, coaches, fans, and players too would likely react very negatively to having their game moved to an alternate site. With four games a day being played in the tournament’s early rounds, and roughly two and a half hours allotted for each, there’s not enough time to fit them all in after sunset without expanding the number of total days in the tournament.

That’s easier said than done for two reasons. First, as mentioned above, many family members and students travel with the team, and a longer tournament means they’d have to spend more on hotel and other travel expenses. In addition, Koshien Stadium is ordinarily the home ground of the Hanshin Tigers professional baseball team. The Tigers vacate Koshien Stadium during the tournament, playing games either on the road or at their alternate quasi-home stadium, Kyocera Dome Osaka. Much like with families needing to make longer hotel reservations for a longer Koshien tournament, though, If the Tigers were to extend their summer stay at Kyocera Dome Osaka, additional fees for the team would be involved.

None of those scheduling concerns would be much of an obstacle, though in rescheduling the tournament’s later-round games, when fewer are played each day, or its championship game, to after sundown. There is still the issue of night games themselves being more expensive, though, since lighting up a professional-grade stadium, which Koshien is, isn’t cheap.

All of those potential problems seem like they could be worked out, though. While the Koshien tournament is an amateur sports competition and NHK a public broadcaster, the games’ broadcasts draw huge television viewership numbers and comparably sized sponsorships from companies that see value in having their name seen by the combined millions of people at the stadium and watching from home. The tournament itself is regularly presented as a showcase of exemplary determination and perseverance by the young players, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect the adults who organize it to work a little harder at making it safer and better for the kids on the field.

Sources: Tokyo Sports Web via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin, Nikkan Gendai, Goo Weather, Koko Yakyu News, Twitter

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese high school baseball players are all class, immediately clean stadium after road loss

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

-- Female high school students continue to be banned on baseball field at Koshien Stadium in Japan

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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Let’s not change a thing and hope it gets better sayeth the oyaji in charge

1 ( +17 / -16 )

This is the same industry that put on Titanic a few days after people in the capsule died. Grade F for tact.

0 ( +19 / -19 )

Let’s be 100% clear here.

The kidz are all out in the gravel, shade less, school sports grounds all day, during the intense midday heat as well. They die of heat exhaustion regularly but I haven’t seen any shade or time altering.

14 ( +22 / -8 )

There's no news about how many in the stands are carted off to the hospital.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

This is SO Japan!

-8 ( +17 / -25 )

Well, then it's time to stop all outside activities right? Construction workers are in the sun just as long, if not longer than these baseball players. Oh and what about the old guys who are directing traffic at these sites too!

These HS baseball players, for the most part, are better prepared to handle the heat, and are hydrating regularly, and are checked out more often than "adults" who are working outside everyday!

And folks who have been here a few years will know, previous years have been hotter, overall, by FAR. How may days, what was it, 3 or 4 years ago, where the high temps were over 40C.

Yeah it's hot and the hypocrisy is noted, but life does go on!

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

Plenty of sports being played by the young in my local park at 1pm in Osaka today. Soccer, girl's softball, Tennis, skateboarding and basketball were the ones I saw. Oh and some track and field guys doing 100m sprints.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Many construction workers are wearing cooling jackets.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

If his body temp was seriously measured at 45deg Celsius then the coaches/organisers should be investigated and charged…..that is criminal to let a child/minor in your care get into that condition.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

YubaruToday 05:16 pm JST

Well, then it's time to stop all outside activities right? Construction workers are in the sun just as long, if not longer than these baseball players. Oh and what about the old guys who are directing traffic at these sites too!

Construction workers aren't competing. While it is still bad, to some extent they can cope by moving more slowly or procrastinating more when the heat gets bad. His work chief is likely to be a veteran who understands what it is all about. He's not expected to make a maximum exertion in the blazing sun. The societal costs of unfinished buildings also exceeds that of competitive sports.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Hypocrisy thy name is Japan, it would seem?

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

These high schoolers cant voice their opinion and cannot protest against organizers. It's the greed of the parents, coaches, and organizers that they take pride by the results of the minors that they do not even consider outside temperature ranges.

Why should they? Coaches have spent the last year doing 残業 and training his boys so hard.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Construction workers aren't competing. 

You have no idea of what the construction world is, if you think they are not competing!

Dont be so naive!

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

We keep getting heatstroke announcements round where I live every day. It’s like, yeah - we know!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

dbsaiyaToday  04:33 pm JST

There's no news about how many in the stands are carted off to the hospital.

The spectators choose to be there and can take as much water with them as they wish; players don't have those choices.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

As always Reactive and never Proactive, so if and when god forbid tow or 3 kids die from heatstroke only then they will stop or move the dates of these game as usual.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

typical Japanese way of dealing with problems, solving the form without addressing the actual issue. TV companies could have actually put some weight on their messages by stopping the transmission, but since that is actually doing something instead of just playing it safe nobody even expects this to be done.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

ワンワン ワンワン!!!

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

C'mon - it's baseball! It's not like they're exercising.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Not only student sports, 

Japanese major TV channels who prioritize business or self-censorship than the lives or human rights avoid to even mention about issues like criticize Government or powerful corporations such as political misstep or political scandals or dumping Fukushima radiation water or Covid19 9th wave or Johnny Kitagawa issues.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

So was the issue that it was dangerous to be competing in such heat? Or that it was "incosiderate" to point out that they shouldn't be competing in such heat?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The could actually make it easier on the kids and fans of the Koshien tournament. Scheduling it around the hottest part of the day can easily be done.

They could move one game to early in the morning from 7-9, then 9-11 and next games in the evening with one from about 5-7 and the last from the about 7-9.

Otherwise all this advice about heat stroke prevention is just lip service.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

It was "Weather Vs Leather" the kids didn't seem to mind so the game went on!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The rabid fanaticism of fight for Japan without complaint until you drop - as in the extreme case, suffering people in WW2 - continues in some form yet today in sports and in work - especially in the pressure on youth.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I can see the humour here, but the warnings on NHK screens will be mostly aimed at the elderly sitting at home. It's them at most risk. The "don't go outside" is encouraging them to not go out at 2pm and spend hours in full sun immaculately removing every weed more than 5mm high from their veggie patch. I can assure you that any unweeded veggie patch in Japan will soon default to full jungle, so all those neat ones that can be seen all over are people's dedication on show. They are the result of mostly old people working outside regardless of how hot it is.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Man, the hypocrisy.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The land of common sense

/s

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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