College Boosters Have Nothing on Dice K’s Seibu Lions
Man, just when I thought our collegiate athletics system of hundred dollar handshakes was pretty jacked up, this story comes across my desk. Apparently in Japan, they recruit and reward their baseball players much younger than you could imagine…much younger. From the Boston Herald via my man Ben Maller:
Daisuke Matsuzakaâ€™s alma mater is one of at least 373 Japanese high schools caught up in a nationwide scandal involving improper courtesies extended to its baseball players.
Matsuzakaâ€™s former professional team, the Seibu Lions, is also wrapped up in this story. According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the Lions are accused of paying cash to former members of the Sendai Kitagami High School team. As a result of this revelation last week, the Kitagami team is disbanding.
High school baseball in Japan is as big of a phenomenon as college football or basketball is here, and when the Japanese High School Baseball Federation caught wind of tuition and admission exemptions being granted to baseball players, it sent out a survey to more than 4,800 federation members, asking if they had behaved improperly. Yokohama was one of 373 schools to file a report admitting a problem existed.
And fans wonder why Japan has become such a hot bed for baseball talent? Man, at least we don’t pay our high school baseball players, at least not until we draft them and then toss millions of unearned dollars their way. But think about what baseball means over there if high school kids are getting the LeBron treatment. Isn’t that nuts?