If you are a brain surgeon trying to get a side job flipping burgers at a fast food joint, you’re more than likely to be called “overqualified” and sent packing; yes, even if you really have a passion for perfecting the ultimate burger flip. Your services are clearly required elsewhere, despite your dreams of being Employee of the Month. But being overqualified for sports isn’t something most athletes generally have to worry about blowing back on them.
Unless, apparently, your sport is Japanese high school baseball, as one especially talented and furiously base-stealing Gunma Prefecture player learned recently.
During a tournament game against the apparently abysmal Koshien High School team from Hyogo Prefecture, the star player of the Kendai Takasaki High School team managed a just plain goofy number of base steals – totaling 11 by the end of the game and 14 in the match series – practically winning the game single-handedly with a final score of 10-0.
This, one would think, would certainly be cause for breaking out the champagne – er, sparkling grape juice in these high schoolers’ case – and celebrating, but at least a few armchair coaches on the Japanese Internet are less than pleased with the kid’s performance. According to them, the star player was making a mockery of baseball’s unwritten etiquette rules, throwing sportsmanship out the window in order to show off at the losing team’s expense.
Taking after its American big brother, Major League Baseball, J-League clubs generally frown upon any activity that seems overly show-offy or unsporting, including rowdy on-field celebrations and excessive bunting and base stealing during games where one team is at a huge point deficit. It was this excessive base stealing that some fans are taking offense to, arguing the kid should have shown some restraint rather than continuing to steal bases and run up the score – a separate offense largely frowned upon in most formal sports.
On the other hand, other commenters argued that unwritten rules are unwritten because they’re not important enough to go in the actual rule book, while others still suggested holding back so the other team could save face would have actually come off as condescending to the losing players. To be fair, many others settled for simply praising the young player’s courage and talent.
It certainly seems to me that sports these days are becoming more cutthroat and dirty than ever, so part of me thinks it’s kind of nice that some people are still interested in holding players accountable for lack of sportsmanship. Then again, I have a pretty good idea that the majority of those taking offense here are part of a certain demographic known for getting irrationally angry at “kids these days.”