Updated: Jan 22, 2019
Author: Olivia Branan
Photo courtesy of Reds Minor Leagues
SPORTS- Baseball is usually regarded as an all-American sport, but in recent years, Asian countries such as China and Israel have included themselves in the U.S.’s national pastime. Most recently, the MLB revealed a partnership with BEREGL, China’s biggest tech company. According to the MLB, “Baseball is now played in more than 80 colleges and universities there, double the number from six years ago, and more than 40 new baseball facilities have been built in the past year by local governments and individuals. Nearly a billion viewers can now watch Major League Baseball game broadcasts and related TV shows on a national network, China Education Television.” With China’s growing interest in the sport and its huge population, it is no wonder why the MLB would want to expand its audience overseas.
Unlike China, Japan has been playing baseball for more than a century, and it is one of the most popular sports in the country. The Japanese league, Nippon Professional Baseball, is internationally ranked as one of the top 10 most-attended domestic sports. Countries such as the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Israel also play the game in major and international tournaments. Because of this, countries are able to come together with a common interest in playing together. Even more isolated countries such as North Korea compete in the sport. According to “Baseball Reference,” the North Korea National Baseball Team has competed in many competitions, such as the Asian, European and Pan-American Championships.
What are the effects of MLB China? Jim Small, the VP of MLB Asia Pacific, says “This relationship with BEREGL will seek to accelerate our growth and to provide first-rate facilities and coaching for the increasing number of Chinese baseball players.” These resources provide education for young baseball players while combining school studies with baseball skills. Not only does it help educate the youth, but also more baseball facilities will be built that will be advantageous for the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2022. The MLB’s goal is to build almost two dozen baseball facilities throughout the country, many to become MLB-BEREGL Baseball Development Centers for student athletes.
The widespread appreciation for baseball has created new connections while putting aside cultural differences. Athletes from different countries are often recruited despite the different playing styles of their country. Last year, the MLB hit a record percentage (29.8 percent) of foreign-born players. The Dominican Republic had 93 percent, Venezuela had 77, and Cuba had 23. This goes to show that baseball is a sport adored around the world, and international teams, although not often recognized in American media, have created a way to bring each other together.