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The popularity of baseball has now leveled out with other sports. I think it is time to reconsider what kind of appeal and benefits that baseball can offer to young people.

17 Comments

Takashi Ofuchi, a baseball scout for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He was commenting on the results of a survey showing that baseball is not Japan's national pastime anymore.

© Asahi Shimbun

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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Make the game more fun for kids...after all....it is just a game...

Key point there, is it not just a game in Japan for the coaches of young kids. At least not where I live. 12 hour days, harassment of the kids in some cases, overbearing focus on winning and last forced parental involvement to support the team. That all is not fun. My son says it this way, I love baseball but hate Yakyu. The kids get good in basic skills that is for sure, but for all the drills and running and thousand swings days there are only 8 players in the MLB, Cuba has 17. Cuba has 11 million people, less than ten percent of Japan. Something is wrong with how Japanese kids are taught baseball.

The Dominican Republic has the most foreign-born Major League players with 84, followed by Venezuela with 74 players, Cuba with 17, Mexico with 11, Japan with 8, Canada and South Korea with 6 each, Colombia and Curacao with 5 each, and Australia, Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama have 3 players each. Aruba, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, South Africa and Taiwan had 1 player each. Lithuania (Dovydas Neverauskas, Pittsburgh Pirates) and South Africa (Gift Ngoepe, Toronto Blue Jays) are the latest countries to have players make the major leagues.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It’s a natural progression.

Where does cricket fit in?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just to compare FIFA football J1 there are 18 teams, J2, J3 divisions to be competed and the highest rank the Asian countries AFC. Also the Emperor's Cup University +Company teams that can participate from all Japan's regions, the televised high school teams competition. All of them that belongs to JFC framework. In contrast, Japan Baseball League to have only dozen teams divided in Central /Pacific leagues and no frameworks with other teams in whole Japan, it shows Professional Baseball in Japan are only for a portion of teams/players to be one of those "elites". Young generations to dream opportunities it's very limited! Baseball in Japan should be revised from the framework and need to create more professional teams, like the 30 teams in USA Major League.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I tried hard to like baseball. One of my students took me to a major league game. I would have slept through it if it hadn't been for the incessant 8 bar "riff" that was so annoying that it kept me awake. The game certainly didn't.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Not surprising. With the introduction of other sports this was bound to happen. I love the game of baseball and it is a game which requires a great deal of skill but there are games which are more exciting to watch.

Baseball will continue to be popular in Japan but I think it has leveled.

To make baseball more appealing to younger kids make the game more fun. Jcapan above made a very good point. In the early days baseball was used to instill the spirit into young boys. Those types of practices do not look fun for a kid (sure they develop great very basic fundamental skills...i.e. fielding).

Make the game more fun for kids...after all....it is just a game...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think football will replace baseball as Japan’s most popular sport. It’s a natural progression.

Watching people standing around scratching their backsides for most of the time is pretty dull.

It’s a perfect example of American sports - something to do in between commercials.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The biggest reason is the boring, unyeilding way baseball is played in Japan.

It's frankly terrible. Setting aside but not ignoring the issues of player harassment, bullying coaches, moronic paramilitary overlays such as haircuts and practices that are more torture sessions than practices, look at the games.

Watch Koshien. Every inning is the same. First player at bat will work the count, swing when needed, never to go long or try to have some fun, but to get a base hit.

Batters 2 and 3 will not swing away. You could have a player that's batting .900 at the plate and the power of Barry Bonds, and they will be forced by the manager to sacrifice bunt. They will do anything to advance the player at first to second by sacrifice bunt.

This boring chip-away offense will continue, with managers ignoring any difference between the skills of their players until either the batting team has 2 outs, or there is a player at third base. Then the next batter will be allowed to swing away again.

If the bases remain clear either through strikeout or whatever, the next batter will be allowed to swing away. Rinse, fold, and repeat.

This isn't baseball. This isn't intelligent coaching or managing, using your players skills and individual differences to the best of their abilities. It isn't even about developing a player's skills to excel in whatever they happen to be best at. It's robotic, mindless, droning 'play' that interspaces practice sessions that are, again, more about mindless repetition to the point of physical torture.

In other words, baseball in Japan is a perfect preparation course for working in a Japanese corporation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Where does cricket fit in?

A good excuse for a piss-up. The Scots didn’t invent it because they never needed one ;)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Like Bertie, I tried to like it, I swear I did. I missed the football from back home, and wanted something to fill that aching void.

But the sad truth is that it really is nothing more than glorified rounders, the game played by millions of young kids all over England, until they are old enough to understand and appreciate cricket. Which is a sport genuinely worth the many long days a match can last.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Where does cricket fit in?

Apparently growing rapidly in Japan.

https://www.icc-cricket.com/news/472171

In its short 20/20 format, it has a similar appeal to baseball, being played easily in a few hours in an evening. Perhaps more accessible because of the rapid scoring and greater number of big hits. Definitely knocks baseball out of the ground for thrills.

The full 5-day game may only be comprehensible to a zen Buddhist monk.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

zurcronium says it best I think. Based on participation, economics, and dedication from kids and parents, Japan should produce way more major leaguers and is easily outdone by smaller and poorer countries. The same goes for a number of other sports.

The quote mentions young people, so as the other posters write, I'm sure modernizing kids baseball away from the present "military discipline uber alles" approach would increase its appeal. Ohtani is probably Japan's biggest sporting star at the moment, so its a chance for the sport, albeit one that will not be taken.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Surely instilling martial spirit has been enough so far

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd like to see the TV news get with the times - they religiously report the baseball scores not not the football scores despite the latter now being a more popular sport.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with Alexandre Ishii above. The corporatist nature of Japan kept baseball a closed professional network - just a handful of teams in a nation of 130m. In many ways it reminds me how the breweries were restricted to just a handful until micro-breweries were legalized.

The same small group of teams playing each other again and again for no obvious purpose or goal is also highly tedious. Multiple leagues and relegation and demotion would really make things more exciting.

But given that baseball no longer has the popularity it did have, should it really be the only sport we ever see on television to a meaningful degree?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Baseball is deathly dull to watch and with many fat and unfit looking players it's not exactly inspiring for a youngster. The only other professional sport that has overweight 'athletes' is sumo and darts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It could be just a question of the shorter attention span of the texting/Twitter/instagram generation. A baseball game is just too long with too much time spent doing sod all.

I’m in my forties and struggle with a film over 2 hours long.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bertie, do you like soccer? Whew, talk about a boring sport to watch... after 30 (seeming) hours of play, the score is.... 0-0, but our team is winning.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

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