Thursday, April 9, 2009

A govermentment bailout

Fresh off of their 2 games and out performance in the World Baseball Classic, the Taiwanese government is going to get involved in the sport and and do what it can to revitalize the game:
The Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council (SAC) will hold consultations with local-level governments and enterprises to work out plans of organizing new baseball teams as part of a program to revitalize the sport in Taiwan.

The move follows a decision by the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) on Wednesday to inject NT$1.26 billion (US$37.28 million) into various projects over the next four years to bring a revival in baseball.
This is interesting to me. With everyone screaming about publicly-funded stadiums (and I agree), how do you think it would go over if the government - any government: local, county, state, or federal - decided to spend $37 mil to revitalize baseball in the country. There would be a hissy fit of epic proportions. Especially when some guys are making $20 mil a year in salary.

However, the taxpayers in Taiwan don't have to worry about the government doing it alone:

Senior executives from major enterprises like Taiwan Cooperative Bank, Taiwan
Power, Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor, Chunghwa Telecom, and China Steel Corp. will also be invited to establish a fresh organization for the new baseball teams.
This isn't just for the Taiwanese professional league, which is now down to 4 teams:
Keelung City said it will also recruit outstanding players to set up a team. Projects to be carried out under the four-year revival plan will include helping Taiwan's top-tier professional baseball organization — the Chinese Professional Baseball League — form a second-tier professional league and providing financial assistance to any organization or corporation that intends to establish adult amateur baseball teams. The revival plan also calls for the development of a comprehensive mechanism for the formation and training of national baseball teams at various levels.

The SAC has worked out operational guidelines for the formation of more adult teams, with the goal of establishing 10 amateur teams this year. In order to organize high-caliber national teams, the SAC will divide international competitions into three tiers, with the Olympic Games, Asian Games and World Baseball Classic at the top.
Basically, what they are doing is revitalizing the game in the country, at all levels. It has taken a serious hit in the last few years, with rampant gambling and game-fixing. This is a scale of fixing the game after the Black Sox scandal, but there isn't a Taiwanese Babe Ruth on the horizon anywhere.

Taiwan is a baseball playing nation, and used to be a force to be reckoned with. In light of their situation in the international scheme of things, it gave them a sense of identity and honor in a world where most countries don't formally acknowledge their existence. They're losing that now, and the government (rightly so) is doing something to bring that back.

The problem is, it takes more than just throwing money at a problem to fix it. Unless you're an American banking institution, then it's okay. If they don't change the perception of baseball in Taiwan, it's going to fade away. That's not a good thing for them.

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