Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A paper for a communication class I'm taking, ties communication with Japanese Baseball

 The article I had to use to write this paper

As an avid baseball fan, I have always noticed how players imported from Japan are much more fundamentally sound that their American counterparts.  For instance, the United States and the Dominican Republic have the most talented teams, yet the Japanese have won the first two World Baseball Classic tournaments that have been played, with sound, team-oriented play.  The Americans seem to do things that benefit the individual, rather than the team.  I believe that has a lot to do with the culture that the players are raised in.  Americans are an individualistic culture, and the Japanese are a collectivistic society.  That’s apparent in how they play, and behave in this great game.
Americans, like I mentioned, are extremely individualistic.  It is very common to see American players sit out of Spring Training, while trying to get a new contract, or because they are unhappy with the direction the team is going in.  They defy their superiors, and show no regard for their teammates.  The motto is:  “I got to make as much money as I can, careers are short.”   A lot of times in the American game, when a player is in the last year of the contract, the player seems to put up numbers, to make sure they secure a substantial contract. 
However, in the Japanese game, these are things that you would never see.  Japanese players take what the management offers them.  Arguing with management would be a major violation of the team’s harmony.  One quote in the article really stood out to be, as to how different the Japanese think of the game:  “If I asked for more money, the other players would have thought that I was greedy.” 
American players will strive to shake every penny from the owner’s pocket, regardless of what anyone else thinks.  The Japanese player takes what he can get, and goes to work.  The team harmony, and winning games together as a cohesive entity is far more important than individual needs. 
From a power distance perspective, the differences between each culture is extremely noticeable.  Japanese players operate with a large power distance.  Japanese players follow orders without argument, do all the extensive training expected of them, and like I mentioned earlier, they take what is offered in terms of monetary compensation.  If they have a problem with they way a manager is using them, they accept his input, or they retire.  One example from the article, stated that Americans often make much more money that their Japanese counterparts, in the Japanese league.  In America, some of the Japanese ballplayers that played here, were under a lot of scrutiny because they received large salaries, without proving their worth in Major League Baseball.  In the Japanese league, they are just part of the unit, and if their talents can help them win, then they are a welcome addition.
  American ballplayers however, obviously have a small power distance.  If you open up the USA today, it is common for ballplayers to openly criticize management, argue with coaches, and often times, brawl with teammates.  Managers will often coddle players who might be hurt, or give them extra days off throughout the year, like sitting a player who has played in multiple games.  Once example of this, is pitcher Zack Grienke.  Grienke, who is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, battled Social Anxiety Disorder, and management allowed him to walk away from the team, with pay, while Grienke received help with his disorder.  From what I have read in the article, the Japanese management would look at such a problem as a major weakness, and would likely release him, and look for a player who was much more mentally stable.  In Japan, if you aren’t into the game, you won’t be around for long.
In terms of ethnocentrism, both cultures exhibit this thorough baseball.  The Japanese have their methods of training, and etiquette on the playing field, there is no compromise in any way, if you do not like the way business is handled, you should change career paths.  When American players go and play baseball in Japan, there are expected to follow the Japanese training methods.  The Americans can tell management “I’m used to doing things this way, and it as been successful for me, so I will continue to do it this way.” 
The Japanese will not compromise, because they feel that their culture dictates that their strict regimen should be adhered to no matter what.  The Americans in baseball however, have much larger voice in how they do training, and how playing time is decided.  The Americans feel the more “player friendly” approach is a far superior way of conducting business.  Neither side will really backtrack on their preparation philosophies.
  Personally, I like the idea of wa being instituted in the game.  One of the most frustrating things in American professional sports is a player who thinks that he is bigger than the game, or his team.  His ego is substantial because of his large salary, and freakish athletic ability.  He questions the coaching staff constantly because he is the most talented, so clearly he is the most knowledgeable when it comes to the game.  Then when it is time to play, the player doesn’t play up to h is capability, because he didn’t put in the preparation that his opponents put in.  This athlete loses, then points his finger at everyone but himself.  In Japan, such actions would likely lead to the unemployment line.
The idea of training together, playing as a cohesive unit, and putting the team about yourself is something that American sports should try and adopt.  It could make an already great game even better.  However, I feel it has almost no chance of being instituted, since Americans are very individualistic, and look out for themselves first.  Wa could be a solution though, to drama queens in divas in professional sports.

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