Would legalized gambling spoil the clean image of Japanese sports?


Additionally, there is a strong concern within the Japanese sports community that sports betting could be associated with match-fixing. Pro baseball, Japan’s national sport, has a particularly grim past: in 1969, several players were permanently disqualified for match-fixing in connection with baseball betting with gangsters. Known as the “Black Fog” incident, this scandal will be remembered as a heinous episode that shook the very foundations of Japanese professional baseball.

This resulted in strict instructions for players and team officials not to engage in gambling. The Nippon Professional Baseball Agreement prohibits match-fixing and imposes severe penalties, including permanent disqualification for violations. It also prohibits baseball gambling and associating with gangsters. This applies not only to players and managers, but also to team officials.

Yoshitaka Katori, who served as the Giants’ head coach and general manager, said, “There are many in baseball [shady] Things that individual players can get caught up in, such as: B. Pitchers giving up four balls or outfield players making mistakes. It can be said that match-fixing is easy and can lead to large-scale cheating. There is concern that baseball players will be viewed unfavorably even though they are doing their best.”

Consternation was also expressed in the educational community. This is because a plan has emerged to use gambling revenues as a source of funding to reform school club activities, shifting responsibility for these activities from schools to private entities in local communities.

Prof. Atsushi Nakazawa of Waseda University, who specializes in sports sociology, commented, “In Japan, it is difficult to achieve social consensus even when it comes to attracting integrated resorts, including casinos, for the purpose of regional development. Many people must be disgusted with the idea of ​​using gambling winnings for school club activities. Addressing sports betting as a source of income is a simple argument.”

There is also a strong fear that this will accelerate the rise in gambling addiction. The pools system currently used for soccer only predicts results on a match-by-match basis, but in sports betting, every play in a match is a subject of wagering. Noriko Tanaka, representative of the Association for the Problem of Gambling Addiction, estimates that there are 3.2 million adults in Japan who may be addicted to gambling. “Sports betting has a much higher risk of addiction than existing public gambling. Lifting the ban on sports betting is totally unacceptable,” she warned sternly.

Sports journalist Akemi Masuda, chairman of Japan Para Athletics, noted that Japan’s three-pillar educational philosophy of taiiku, chiiku and tokuiku, or physical, intellectual and moral education, has shaped the development of sports in that country. She said: “Sports culture in Japan has a different background than Western sports culture, which derives from the Latin word deportale, meaning fun or play. When introducing something new, you have to be careful and take cultural differences into account.”

The Japanese sports community has historically developed in a different context than that of the West. Japanese companies in particular have always understood their support for sport as a “social contribution”. Because sport has a “clean” image. There are quite high barriers to introducing sports betting in a society with such a background. How should fraud and addiction be prevented? It will be difficult to promote sports betting in Japan unless measures are taken to gain the full understanding of the Japanese public instead of just pursuing business interests.

By Yuji Kondo / Yomiuri Shimbun sportswriter

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