Saturday, June 25, 2011

Taiwan: 2011 Summer Fellows - Baseball

Like Baseball? Good news then, Taiwan definitely has it. In addition to NBL games consistently broadcasted on the national sports station Taiwan has its own league. It seems like all the East Asian democracies have made baseball one of their most prominent sports as it's also pretty popular in Japan and South Korea. This could result from close ties with the United States but I'm not quite sure. Mainland China has a baseball league but few Chinese people really care about it; the NBA is vastly more popular on the mainland, particularly after Yao Ming joined the Houston Rockets.

I was surprised at this when I first arrived as I expected the primary sport of interest to be soccer. When I was in Japan last year for the World Cup everybody was staying out late to watch the games and the Koreas have a pretty serious rivalry with one another. I would imagine the reason for Taiwan's lack of interest in soccer is because there are so few national teams here. The only international competition I've ever seen the Taiwanese participate in was the international little league tournament in 2009, and even then the team called itself "Chinese Taipei."

Unfortunately, since Taiwan cannot compete with mainland teams on a regular basis the league is limited to cities that exist on the island. Moreover, a bribery scandal that occurred ten or fifteen years ago really hurt the industry so a lot of fans felt betrayed and the stadium is usually pretty empty; I think my high school sold more tickets to the average baseball game. A friend also told me that since the league lost so much money after the scandal they only have four teams left. This leaves little room for post-season excitement like a playoff so I really hope the league will recover or, even better, as Beijing-Taipei relations appear to be improving, maybe they can organize some cross-strait competition. Unfortunately neither of these outcomes appear likely in the near future.

The good news? Tickets to a game are about six dollars. Also, because Taiwan's government recently passed a law that stadiums, movie theatres and other entertainment venues could not bar clients from bringing in their own food, that means you don't have to but eight-dollar hamburgers and six-dollar unreasonably large Coca-colas; you can just bring in something you like. Every team also appears to have an accompanying band, making the experience reminiscent of a college game, which, having graduated from Florida State, I can appreciate.

So last week when the team was in town I finally got a chance. I'll admit, it was Dodgers at San Francisco situation but if you like just watching a game with some friends I recommend giving it a try. The Taichung Bulls hosted the Taipei Brothers, who seem to be a more popular team as more people at the game wore yellow (Taipei's color) than Taichung's green. Unfortunately, the bulls were not able to pull ahead and ultimately lost but it was fun to watch. We've got another game at home next Thursday so more than likely I'll be there.

Shawn Lynott
MA International Affairs 2012
Sigur Center 2011 Chinese Language Fellow
Taipei Language Institute, Taiwan

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it seems that you enjoy your life in Taiwan. To be honest, as a Taiwanese, I've never been to a baseball game. I should give it a try when I go back to Taiwan.