David Hearn comments

Posted in: Hashimoto blasts education board over basketball teacher lapse See in context

In the mid to late 90's I worked 6 years at two schools coaching basketball all the way through. Slowly, I was given more responsibility and became the head coach of the boys team at a strong sports school in Tokyo in my 3rd year. This story really hits home for me and brings back feelings I haven't had in a while. This is a complex problem and the use of corporal punishment and my refusal to employ it in my coaching style was a big factor in me deciding to leave and stop coaching in Japan. I saw many things that would make your jaw drop but everybody (at the school and outside) knew what went on and nodded with knowing smiles when the subject came up. When I brought up the fact that this behavior would get them fired in the U.S. the coaches at my school often responded by calling the punishment 愛情 "sign of love" or would tell me something like "It's worse in Korea".

All of this behavior indirectly supported and encouraged that type of relationship between the coaches and players. I think there is one story I can add from my experience that may be interesting to hear. One December at a bonenkai with the parents of the players and the coaches, everybody was pretty drunk and having a good time singing karaoke when a group of three mothers pulled me off to the side. The leader stuffed a 10,000 yen note in my pocket and told me that if he son ever acted up that I should hit him to help him "learn/understand". The others nodded in agreement and laughed while telling me stories about how deviant their sons behavior could be and how bad they were at home. The message was clear, they were fine with me physically punishing their sons, even encouraging it... I think there is a lot of blame to go around with the coach and school principal at the top of the list, but also looks like several parents also knew, as far back as Sept. 2011, but didn't have the nerve to do something drastic enough to change the behavior. I'm not sure parents understand how much leverage they have with coaches. The coaches need their star players to win games and help keep/build their reputation... The really sad thing is that it takes a suicide for this discussion to even take place and my guess is that once the media attention dies down, it won't be long before it's all forgotten, and things go back to the norm.

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