Hard to believe when it is so hot and humid… but today is what we call the First Day of Autumn on Chinese calendar. Hard to believe, when the most heated period of the year has only just begun today for those competing in the summer baseball tournament of high school teams from all over my homeland, whether as players, team staffs, hosting staffs, or fans.
Today also marks the beginning of a new century for this tradition, as this year is the one-hundred-and-first year since the first tournament was held. Times have changed, the game has changed, and the people who play and watch it have changed over this century. So it is hard to believe that the rules governing this tournament has not undergone the same changes.
As I have mentioned before, high school baseball has had its share of problems. Another was added this year, just a few days before the tournament began – a female student who was part of the staff for a competing team and was assisting practice on the field was instructed to go back into the dug-out because the tournament rules said “no females are allowed on the field.”
Now, to be fair, this particular rule was set back in the days when girls were involved in the game exclusively off the field and it was written to assure the safety of such “non-trained” staff. But today, we are seeing more girls getting actively involved on the field as well. As such, I am fairy certain that they get “trained” and extra measures are taken to assure their safe. It is hard to believe that this rule has not been scratched out by now, or at the very least been subjected to discussion.
But what was the hardest to believe was that the coach “thought it was acceptable if she cleared all other rules [his words, my translation],” while the girl in question commented “I had a feeling I would not be allowed [her words, my translation].”
Maybe there was a point, and a very good one at that, to be made.
Maybe the problem would have gone unnoticed for many more years, had it not been for the action they took this year.
Maybe the issue will finally receive the attention it deserves, now that it has come out in the open so sensationally.
But was this the right way to go about?
Could it be that the point was made unnecessarily and excessively political?
Has the problem now been reduced down to an isolated issue of gender equality, instead of a comprehensive consideration for the safety of all involved?
And most of all, did anyone care for the safety of the heart of the girl in question, about how she would feel when all is said and done?
Because in the end, the only fact that remains is that she was put on the spot with no one to help her out with the answer. I can hardly believe this is a fair treatment for a person who has contributed so much to the game through her proven dedication to the team.
Games of sports usually call for everyone involved to abide by the rules which govern them and adhere to fair play. It is understandable to not want to be governed by rules which do not reflect the present-day reality. But that does not mean rules can be broken on an ad hoc basis, and it definitely does not permit abandoning fair play to bend the rules. For everyone involved in games of sports, it should not be hard to believe that the spirit of sportsmanship extends well beyond what takes place on the playing field.
Our National Student Baseball Charter states that “student baseball shall be viewed as an act of education, and aim to foster persons with the qualities necessary to take part in a peaceful and democratic society [my translation].” This is one rule I do not believe requires any changes any time soon. I hope that those in position to educate in accordance with this rule teach it right and find peaceful and democratic means when working to bring about changes long overdue.
I hope the new century will welcome intense reviews of old rules, and lead us right back to the purest form of the spirit of sportsmanship that got us to love it so much in the first place, whether as players, team staffs, hosting staffs, or fans. Let the games of changes begin!