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SK Players Show Respect for Baseball

Posted March. 20, 2007 07:15,   


“Is Kim Kwang-hyun really that good?”

“He still needs some polishing.”

“Then why are there so many news articles?”

“Because it’s sportainment.”

This is an excerpt from a conversation between Hanwha Coach Kim In-sik and SK Coach Kim Seong-geun overheard at a practice game last week. Recent SK-related news is never without the word “sportainment” (sports and entertainment). As a result, many events are being planned.

Actress Lee Hyun-ji, with the nickname “pocket girl,” signed on as the team’s contract entertainer, known as the “Wyverns Girl.” At Munhak Baseball Stadium, the team’s home field, a baseball theme park called ‘Wyverns Land’ will open, and on March 25, a cruise ship will be moored off the coast of Incheon. These are the external features of “sportainment.”

Internally there are more innovative experiments underway. Needless to say, all are aimed at remaking baseball “for the fans.”

After finishing four months of training throughout the winter in Jeju, Miyazaki, Koji, and Okinawa, SK players have been completely transformed. When switching from batting to fielding, players sprint without being told. After practice, all the players are busy picking up the balls. There are no players who carelessly kick balls around the infield. Nor do they run over bats. This is showing respect for baseball.

The same holds when SK players meet fans. If players refuse a fan’s request for an autograph or a picture together for no particular reason, they must pay a fine. Although the players were doubtful of this policy at first, they have learned to enjoy this. Taking a positive perspective has helped remove their awkwardness.

A love for baseball can also be felt when watching the players. Star batter Park Jae-hong was hit on his right wrist while running between bases during a practice game with Chunichi, and when he came into the locker room there were tears in his eyes. The reason for this was because, “it’s upsetting when all the effort I put in up until the injury just disappears like this.” That is how hard SK players have hit, run and sprinted. They do all this to play a good game in front of their fans.

Coach Kim Seong-geun’s first statement to his team was, “I remember the season’s last home game against LG last year. It had nothing to do with the rankings. But 4,782 fans came to the stadium. What did you do about it back then?”

If the person playing baseball does not enjoy it, it is even less enjoyable for the people watching. The center stage for ‘sportainment’ is still none other than the stadium.