Sure winnersThe Korean national baseball team is a group of sure winners. Even though they lost 3 to 5 against Japan in the final World Baseball Classic matchup yesterday, each member of the team is a winner.
For it is not winning or losing that counts, but that each and every one of the players infused the nation with a spirit of courage and joy throughout the 18-day tournament.
They all deserve a big round of applause.
But it’s a pity to see that the infrastructure for sporting events is so poor in Korea. There is not one indoor baseball stadium in the entire country, and we only have 55 high school baseball teams nationwide. By contrast, Japan has six indoor ballparks and over 4,100 high school squads. It is almost a miracle for the Korean team to have advanced all the way to the semis and then to the finals after defeating Japan twice.
It’s also a shame to see that the charm of competition does not always correspond to the amount individual players are paid. This discrepancy was highlighted by one American commentator, who remarked on the Korean team’s ability to get as far as they did based on its strong spirit, while noting that individual players were getting far less in salary than their international counterparts.
On a brighter note, the leadership of manager Kim In-sik set a good example for other leaders in our society. He employed excellent tactics throughout the tournament and never once lost faith in his players, despite all of the wrangling that occurred as the team’s roster was being finalized.
The United States, the tournament’s organizer, deserves some criticism for how the schedule for each round was set. As in the first WBC in 2006, Korea was forced to meet its rival, Japan, several times.
We should be active in offering some alternatives to this problem. Our showings in the first tournament and at the Beijing Olympics should, at the very least, contribute to buying us a seat at the negotiating table.
But in the future, we should continue working to improve conditions for this and other sports in this country so as to complement our international standing.
Meanwhile, we hope to see the robust spirit shown by the players spread throughout the nation. If we can play ball here, we can do it elsewhere.
Let us leap once more to overcome the ongoing economic crisis with the same spirit and courage that the Korean national team put on display for all the world to see.
We thank you for all of your hard work and inspiration. You truly are the best.