When Spring Training comes to a close in late March, Major League Baseball players are usually pretty excited about finally getting to play real games. This year, a few choice teams should be even more enthused about the their opening day games. Namely, the Dodgers, Padres, Athletics and Red Sox. Why? Because aside from the fact that it is opening day, a memorable moment for any team, these four clubs will be playing their opening series overseas. The Dodgers will play the Padres in China and the Boston Red Sox will square off against the Oakland A’s in Japan, the home of Boston’s ace pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.
These internationally staged games are in line with the current trend of taking American sports into foreign venues. For instance, last season the NFL held a regular season game in London, England, the NBA played a variety of exhibition games in China (mostly due to Yao Ming’s star status), and the MLS hosted and participated in many international friendlies and tournaments.
My question is what impact, if any, results in taking American sports global. And are the impacts worth it. To answer that question, just ask the leagues. Would the NBA be the same without Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitski or Pau Gasol? Would Major League Baseball be the same without David Ortiz or Albert Pujols? No. The fact of the matter is that taking American sports to an international stage brings in foreign talent that makes the leagues more competitive and the games more interesting to fans, especially foreign fans. Nowadays, you could pit the best five American NBA players against the best five international players and have a pretty competitive game. Would that have been the case 15 years ago when Jordan and Magic Johnson were playing? Not a chance.
Another reason why sports reach into foreign countries is a good thing becomes apparent when you take a look at business revenue. By attracting a larger audience base around the world, the NBA, MLB and other major sports leagues make more money. Apparel sales and royalties from televised games are at an all-time high. The leagues are making more money which, in turn, allows them to plan for the future, invest their money wisely, and ultimately improve the situation of the leagues. Any way you slice it, going global is a marked improvement.
But, what about all the naysayers who maintain that foreign influences are changing the games we Americans have grown up with? There are those who feel that today’s sports are so different from the past that we can no longer call them American sports. Rather they must now be called international sports. And honestly, there is some truth in that. But if you take a look at how sports have changed, you’ll see that evolution is the culprit of the changes not foreigners. Take for instance the changes that have occurred in the NBA over the years. In the early day of basketball, the granny shot and textbook bounce passes were the norm. In contrast to that style of play, nowadays the league is ruled by ally-oop dunks and crossovers. But, you have to ask yourself whether these changes can be chalked up to foreign influence. In my opinion, the changes can be attributed more so to homegrown players like Lebron James and Allen Iverson than foreign players. MLB중계