Identity of siaspora through sport spectatorship: a visiting teams booster club in japanese professional baseball

Por: Hidesato Takahashi.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction

As the organization of Japanese professional baseball has adopted a franchise system, every game is played in the home stadium or away. Though it is natural that voluntary fan clubs form in a home town, there are some exceptions: sport mass media has generated some fans in favor of a team far away from a place where they live. Lestrelin named this particular mode of fans’ delocalization "supporting at a distance", and discussed a complex form of identification to the team [1]. In this paper, I would like to take up a booster club of a professional baseball team in Japan, which is established away from the team’s home town, and examine the way of forming the association through sport spectatorship, focusing on identity of the members.

Methods

Kinki Car Booster Club is dealt with as an object of this study. It exists in the Osaka metropolitan region (=Kinki) where the Tigers team is granted a franchise, and its members are the fans of Carp whose home town is Hiroshima, a provincial city about 350km away from Osaka. The Data was gained from an interview with the officials, from a questionnaire distributed to club members and from the bulletins.

Results / Discussion

For a quarter of a century, from its founding in 1950 until its first championship in 1975, the Carp team was regarded as part of the substandard B class every year. In 1976, a group of young men who belonged to the Association of Hiroshima Prefecture Natives Resident in the Kinki region created "Osaka (Kinki) Carp Booster Club." At that time, the secretariat was placed in the hands of the Association of Hiroshima Prefecture Natives. Today, Booster Club is around 600, although during Carp championships in the early 1980s, it soared above 1,000. The results of questionnaires to the members (151samples: rate of data collection: 25%, 2002) indicated that 42% were Hiroshima-born and now living in the Osaka area. The president and the three vice presidents are all native to Hiroshima prefecture. In addition to these top executives, there are ten other people who come from Hiroshima on the executive board of the club.
The excess of movement into Japanese urban areas achieved its peak in the early 1960s. It was during this period that a breakdown of the existing communal order that supported the foundation of social structure in Japan became most apparent. Population increases showed particularly strong trends in Tokyo and Osaka. In 1965, the citizens of Osaka who were actually born in Osaka City were only 32.5%. Many members in their 50s and 60s came to Osaka from Hiroshima during the 1950s and 60s, when Japan had achieved economic development after the end of World War II. So they experienced the fist Carp championship in 1975 while living in Osaka.
When the term "Diaspora" is used in the context of culture research and sociology, it is regarded as "a state of solidarity or a communal network in a place remote from a birthplace or common cultural roots."[2] By extension, Carp fans who come from Hiroshima and face a state of homelessness are effectively re-constructing their own hometowns through their support for the team. The Booster Club may offer them opportunities for the formation of collective diaspora identity.

References

[1]. Ludovic Lestrelin (2003). Supporting at a Distance, The 2nd World Congress of Sociology of Sport, Proceedings, p.86.
[2]. Toshiya Ueno (1999). Diasupora no shiko (Thoughts on Diaspora), Tokyo:Chikuma Shobo, p.7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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