Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Baseball (and Cheering) in Korea

A few weeks ago I went to my first baseball game in Korea. While the game is the same, the experience is quite different. First the cost is much less prohibitive, as tickets (albeit in the nosebleed section) were only 10,000 won, or about 10 dollars. The stadium is on the small side though, so the view was still good. Best part? Once you're in, the prices of food and drinks (alcohol included) are the same prices as outside the stadium! No paying $9 for a beer that's worth $2.

We watched the Doosan Bears play the LG Twins. This was exciting because they are both Seoul teams who share the stadium. Usually one team plays their home game there while the other is away. One could say it was like watching the Seoul version of the subway series (Yankees vs. Mets for you non- New York area-ers). As you can tell however, unlike American teams, Korean teams are named for the companies that own them, not the state or city they represent. There are eight teams in the professional league, including the Kia Tigers and Samsung Lions. Also sound familiar?

I find it interesting that the teams only have English names. but I think it's meant to help them gain more international recognition. I'm under the impression that Korea has generally performed well in international baseball competitions. One area where Korean baseball undoubtedly surpasses American baseball is cheering. The fans participate in organized cheers and dances for the entire game, even when players are up at bat. Perhaps I'm remembering incorrectly, but I feel like at American games fans usually quiet down at least while the pitcher is throwing.

I didn't know what I wanted to watch more, the game, or the incredible displays of fan-dom taking place up in the stands. For your entertainment, here's a video of the cheering. You can see how fans sat on either side of the stadium depending on which team they were rooting for. I believe the far sides of the stadium are actually special "cheering sections" which require you to at least hold on to a pair of those inflatable noise maker things (that's the scientific term). The middle of the stadium where we sat had fans for both teams, sprinkled with indifferent spectators like myself, who generally did not partake in the organized singing and dancing.

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