Draft dodging doesn’t merit a lifetime ban on playing

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Draft dodging doesn’t merit a lifetime ban on playing

The Korea Baseball Organization announced that it would ban for the remainder of the season the 51 baseball players involved in the draft scandal. They added that in the future, any player involved in a draft dodging scheme would be banned for life from baseball.
Believe me, by now you must know that I despise nothing more than draft dodgers. Yet, having said that, I must say that the KBO’s measure is just too harsh. People make mistakes, especially young adults who have to ponder the idea of whether to spend two years of their prime in some distant barracks in the mountains or opt for the easy way out that could guarantee one’s livelihood.
A ballplayer without a team is dead meat. Especially here, where many ballplayers don’t develop the necessary skills to get another job other than playing ball. If you take away that chance for good, you are most likely ruining one’s life.
That’s not right, although in a country where every male has to serve, it’s understandable that the sentiment toward draft dodgers isn’t exactly warm.
We have seen how people who got caught paid for it. Lee Hoi-chang, once a sure bet for president, paid dearly when his son’s draft dodging was uncovered. Many people, including myself, think that scandal cost him the presidency. Yoo Seung-jun, once a rising pop star, isn’t likely to set foot on the peninsula ever again.
So to announce that any draft-dodging player will be banned forever is a popular action to take. Yes, it may please the public and it’s the easy way out, but the move wasn’t well thought out.
As it is, the incentives to dodge the draft still exist, and neither the KBO nor the Defense Ministry are close to coming up with a solution.
In the past, ballplayers who were assigned alternative duties to military service, such as working at district offices as clerks, were allowed to play at home games that were held at night. Then some teams that didn’t have such players complained, and those rules were scrapped. I think it’s time to reintroduce similar rules.
Another option that comes to mind is a shortened service period. In the past, there was a six-month and 18-month alternative service for those who met certain physical standards. To reintroduce such alternatives to professional athletes is a feasible solution that I believe the public will accept.
To be eligible, the athlete would have to be part of a professional team and would have to have played a certain number of games, while each team would have a limit, because we want to make absolutely sure that it’s not bench warmers who benefit.
While we’re on the subject of improving baseball, the other day, I was watching a game between my beloved Doosan Bears and LG Twins. They were playing at Jamsil Stadium, which is supposedly one of the better ballparks in the country.
Pleeeeeease, fix that one, is all I have to say. Before thinking about building a dome ballpark, just try to fix the broken ones.
The field looked like a bald man’s head, and the fences offered no protection whatsoever for the outfielders. It’s embarrassing to watch players trying to play there. There is a reason people aren’t going to the parks.

by Brian Lee
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