Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The December 23rd suicide by an Osaka high school boy who suffered repeated abuse by his basketball coach is an unsurprising example of how badly things can go not when but because people accept false premises. Sports are not important. Sports may even be downright evil. No doubt the coach thinks that sports are important, and that they have a valuable lesson to teach young people. Hence he tries to justify his physical assault as a teaching, or motivating technique that appeared to work (“High school coach tries to justify abuse of boy,” Japan Times, January 13). Many people think and say the same about the educational value of sports, and even politicians spout this rubbish. The coach is dead wrong, and so are everyone else who thinks so. But the coach doesn’t know it, hence his explanations are sincere, albeit ignorant. I think that in Japanese culture a lot of malfeasance is ignored, excused, or camouflaged with pleas to sincerity. You can get away with a lot in this country if you adopt the proper demeanour. But this incident is so dramatic that it can’t be ignored this time. Or can it?
Sports are a recreation. You throw the ball, you catch the ball. That’s it. There’s nothing of lasting, authentic importance about them. Hence, mandatory physical education and mandatory clubs are, in fact, among the worst ideas in a long, sad history of bad school ideas and the way sports are run these days they no longer even teach us anything about real sportsmanship.
In most cases enforcing behavior is abusive of individuals’ human and civil rights. Educators get away with it under the accepted premise that they are working for the students’ good and that as adults and trained teachers, they know what is best for their charges. It might do well to set a strict school policy, or to enact a law that identifies ALL unsolicited physical contact as an assault. Don’t touch students.
Published on Thursday, January 17, 2013 as “Face up to what’s not important.”
Sports are supposed to be fun. If they aren’t fun, then what’s the point? Winning is certainly a point, but also certainly not the primary point. If it is, then something is wrong. I like to play sports for fun. But as soon as they become an organized event where opposing teams play according to rules for the purpose of acquiring points in order to defeat the other team then you lose me. Where’s the fun in any of that? There isn’t any.