This is the year to focus on the sports leaguesThere will be no Olympics, no World Cup, no World Baseball Classics in 2007. A dull year awaits us for sure, right? Only if you think international events are the only things worth your time. This year will be a true test for our professional sports leagues. Baseball or soccer, the focus of the fans will be on them.
If the service to the fans and the quality of the games ― including refereeing ― improves, there is hope our weak professional leagues can be revived.
The Korea Baseball Organization is going to have a grand workshop in the first quarter of the year, intended to lift standards to international levels and introduce new measures that could bring more fun to the game and enhance the play of South Koreans in outside competitions.
Lowering the pitching mound, increasing the size of the baseball to match international standards, and being more consistent with the strike zone are some of the measures being considered. It also might change the 6:30 p.m. starting game time to a later and more fan-oriented time and try to shorten the length of the games.
Soccer? I don’t know what the K-League is going to do, but it should take a hint from Incheon United FC. The first citizen-owned club in the history of the K-League made a net profit of 500 million won ($540,000) last year in its third year of existence. The club is now considering listing itself on the Kosdaq stock exchange. Something is working there.
While it’s safe to say that this year will be a time for domestic sports leagues to grow in strength, it’s also a good time to write some ground rules in STONE regarding special exemptions from the country’s mandatory military service that athletes receive.
One of the reasons the baseball team underperformed at the Asian Games, besides its level of skill, is that the skipper of the team, Kim Jae-park, chose players who had a shot at getting a free ticket out of military service.
There were players who competed in the United States who should have been on that team but were not. Some declined to play out of injury concerns. To prevent similar things from happening, a committee needs to have a say in selecting the players.
In addition, there should be a rule that athletes who have already received an exemption must play in at least one more international event at a similar level or be required to go through boot camp. That would ensure that great players help the country that gave them a pass.
The new year should bring plenty, and I will complain and write as usual with the deadline guillotine hanging over my head, but this is what you should do for yourself: Take work seriously, but remember that your health is the most important thing. Be thankful to have the health to work and try to keep it that way. Nothing can replace your health. Work the stairs, and don’t get stressed out over your boss. He is probably not worth it. Step away from work or the stress source when your adrenaline level gets too high. Don’t worry about the North Korean nuclear weapons that the president says are no threat. But above all, give time to your family and loved ones and have a happy new year!
by Brain Lee