‘If you can’t study, they won’t hire you’: What Japan’s Koshien winners can teach Korean baseball

October 27, 2023 | by

The 105th Summer Koshien High School Baseball Tournament, which concluded in August, was dominated by the champion Keio Kijuku High School. Interestingly, it wasn’t baseball that made Keio the center of attention in Japan. It’s because Keio is a school with virtually no baseball players.

A sister school to Japan’s prestigious private Keio University, Keio is unique among Japan’s baseball schools in that it has a sports recommendation admissions system. Keiogo does not admit student-athletes even if they are exceptionally talented in baseball. Only student-athletes with significant academic ability are accepted.

Keiogo requires a combined GPA of at least 38 (out of a possible 45) for all nine junior high school subjects, as well as an outstanding track record in cultural and sports activities. On top of that, you’ll have to take an interview and a writing test. For a student-athlete who has to practice baseball every day, it’s very difficult to break through Keio’s high barriers. Eight of Keio’s nine starters who won this year’s summer koshien tournament passed the criteria.

How did the Keio baseball club manage to reach the top of the Koshien? Of course, there were many players who had recently excelled. However, Keio Baseball emphasized autonomy over coercion. Keio’s philosophy of “injoy baseball” – the idea that players should always enjoy playing baseball while training and competing – is not tied to their performance on the field. In fact, most Keioi baseball players don’t make it to the professional ranks in Japan. Many of them are student baseball players who take university exams and go on to study non-sports-related majors.

Naturally, players who do not perform well in their studies are excluded from training and competitions. Katsuji Kiyohara, a current Keio sophomore who is the second son of Kazuhiro Kiyohara (56), who led PL Gakuen to summer koshien titles in 1983 and 1985 and was Japan’s leading long ball hitter during his time with the Seibu Lions, was also unable to participate in paid baseball team training because of his academic grades. There is no place for “Dad Chance” in the Keio baseball team, which strives to foster “student-athletes who study.

While most Japanese high school baseball players are required to keep their hair short, Keiogo has long since opted for “two-hair autonomy. The reasoning was that discipline, symbolized by hair length, was not necessarily important to a successful life as a baseball player or as a person in general.

Keiogo also doesn’t train for baseball for long periods of time. This is not unrelated to recent changes in Japanese society. “Baseball is still attractive to students who want to become professional athletes, but from a parent’s point of view, it’s more attractive to have students play sports such as soccer, where coaching licenses are well established, or basketball, where practice can be done in half a day,” Moribayashi Takahiko, 50, Keiogo’s baseball coach, told the Japanese monthly magazine Bungei Chunchu in September.

In general, the sport’s long hours of team training and high risk of injury mean that there is a societal view that baseball is not suitable for a declining birthrate. This also means that it is not advisable for all Japanese high school baseball teams to spend long hours practicing baseball. 토스카지노

There are nearly 4,000 high school baseball teams in Japan. There are several different types of teams. Some schools, like Keio, have virtually no baseball players, while others are all-baseball schools. In addition, there are many schools where general students and baseball specialists sweat it out together in the baseball team. It’s not uncommon to find students who don’t necessarily play on the team, but are involved as managers, scorekeepers, or publicists. These students are so passionate about baseball that they take time away from their studies to participate in the club.

This phenomenon, which is not only common in baseball teams but also in Japanese high school sports departments, has a lot to do with Japan’s bukatsu (side activity) system. The bukatsu system refers to extracurricular activities in a variety of fields, including music, art, film, literature, and more. Appearing in the Japanese Ministry of Education’s Study Guidelines in 1968, bukatsu became mandatory in Japanese middle and high schools in 1972, and has recently become a voluntary elective.

In the case of baseball, one of Japan’s most popular sports, the introduction of the bukatsu system has led to an increase in the number of general students participating. In some cases, high school baseball teams that include both regular students and baseball specialists have been able to compete in the Koshien tournament.

This has led to an increase in the number of baseball managers in Japanese high school baseball clubs who are also school teachers. This reinforces the idea that high school baseball managers should be educators, not just functional baseball players. Hiroshi Sasaki (48), who paved the way for Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels), a top star in Major League Baseball (MLB), to become an idoryu (pitcher) in high school and also taught him character education, is also a teacher in charge of the subject of geohistory and civics, which combines geography, history, and ethics.

It may be very difficult for a school like Keio, which has no baseball specialists, to reach the top of the Koshien competition again. It’s also unlikely that a school like this will ever produce a baseball player to represent Japan. However, the power of Japanese high school baseball in its various forms is crucial not only for developing prospects, but also for expanding the “baseball market” by creating future loyal baseball fans. There is a lesson to be learned for Korean baseball, which aims to create “student-athletes who study.


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