The high-school baseball spring and summer tournaments at Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture are national events. People love the games because of the young players’ clean image and spirit of fair play. But findings by the Japan High School Baseball Federation show that most participating high schools have not been playing fairly in attracting players.

After sending inquiries to prefectural federations, the JHSBF found that 376 high schools, all of them private schools except one, have violated Chapter 13 of the Japan Student Baseball Association, which prohibits preferential treatment for students such as admission and tuition exemptions. Such schools are spread across all prefectures, except Kochi Prefecture, where no violations were reported. Twenty-five of them had won the spring or summer championship or both. Thirty have now decided not to play in the coming spring championship.

The 375 private high schools make up about half of the 773 private high schools in the federation. A total of 7,971 students were found to have benefited from preferential treatment. After it surfaced that Sendai Kitagami High School in Iwate Prefecture had broken the charter, the federation started sending inquiries to prefectural federations on April 24. The school had been involved in cash payments by the Seibu Lions baseball club in the scouting of players. The findings show that many senior high schools offered preferential treatment to get talented players and eventually boost the schools’ reputation.

Since preferential treatment for students is allowed in other sports, there is the opinion that the student baseball charter is out of date. The federation may have failed to fully explain the charter to member schools. Yet it did issue a reminder concerning the prohibition of preferential treatment in November 2005 and on another occasion. Winning the championship while violating the charter lessens the value of victory.

Fair play is a hallmark of high-school baseball. The federation’s aim of equalizing conditions among high school baseball teams must be respected.

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