Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Making use of Taiwan's prowess in baseball

By Kevin Huang 黃煜

Cheered on by the Taiwanese people, the national team finally beat its long-time rival South Korea 5-4 after a 10-inning game in the Asian Baseball Championship in Sapporo, Japan. This victory, and another over China, meant Taiwan qualified for next year's Olympic Games in Athens.

The success came after years of failure. Taiwan's baseball team failed to qualify for the previous three Olympics after winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

After beating South Korea and qualifying for the Olympics, what we should consider now is how to win at the Olympics. After all, the competition at the Olympics is much more serious than it was in the Asian Baseball Championship. In addition, the development of baseball should be sustainable, not just a flash in the pan.

Therefore, building Taiwan into a respected baseball power is of concern to all fans. There are a number of ways to achieve this.

The first is making use of technology integration. Although player performance is crucial to the result of a game, what's more important is to let players play to the best of their ability. Hence, backup support is particularly important, including support from information technology, treatment of injuries, sport science, psychological counselling and an understanding of international affairs.

Thus, only by integrating technologies from diversified fields can our national baseball team play to its full strength. Baseball is not a sport that merely stresses players' skills or tactics.

Next is the issue of upgrading the industry. In recent years, one of the trends in international sport has been "professionalization." The Olympics has also lifted its restrictions on professional players in baseball, basketball and tennis. The core of professionalization lies in "professionalism."

Apart from emphasizing players' professionalism during this process, we should also professionalize a number of peripheral matters.

These include judging, reporting in the media, the management of stadiums and sports organizations and even the performance of our fans, whose "professional" performance during the Taiwan-South Korea game forced the South Korean media to admit to their inferiority.

In other words, Taiwanese baseball must be operated as a business, professionally and scientifically, because people's passion may be unable to support the sport for too much longer.

The driving force in upgrading the baseball industry will come from two very human aspects: the quality of our athletes and the ability of those who are responsible for building and selling the sport.

Last, as the old saying goes, "Harmony in the family is the basis for any undertaking."(家和萬事興) Divergent ideals and conflicts of interest have occurred during the development of the sport in this country. This led to serious internal struggles that damaged everyone.

As a result, Taiwanese baseball disappeared from the international stage for quite some time.

The Athens Olympics are approaching, and Taiwan is expected to regain its position as one of the world's top five baseball powers.

How to consolidate the strengths of each aspect of the nation's baseball industry should now be the main concern for the authorities.

After all, winning an Olympic gold medal will no longer be a dream if we can unite with one heart.

Kevin Huang Yu is an associate professor in the department of sport management at National Taiwan College of Physical Education.

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