5 Major Pros to joining a Sports Club
- Life long friendships
- looks good on resume of the best kind
- Gear(sponsors etc)
- Learn Japanese culture from it
- Language practice
Joining a bukatsu(sport club) like any sporting organization confers on to its participants general benefits which any individual participating in team sports can attest to. For individuals with a love for the sport, this is a no brainer.
As a international baseball club member stated:
“Baseball is my favorite sport. I had a strong desire to play the game at the highest level. The 東京六大学野球(Tokyo Big 6 Baseball League) is one of the most prestigious baseball league in Japan. Our games are televised and we play at a professional stadium against future pro players. The opportunity to play baseball at a high level made me join.”
Undoubtedly the greatest benefits one will get from bukatsu are those they will experience during the time they spend as a student living this double life. The constant required exercise coupled with monitored measured meals ensures student in these clubs maintain excellent physical and mental health.
Working with other teammates multiple times a week pushing each other to train harder fosters a camaraderie which only those who have been apart of a sports team will understand. The little nods of acknowledgment shared as teammates cross paths in and around campus turns the sea of strange faces into more familiar ones eventually making one feel more at home. This is especially beneficial for the international student who is of course even more isolated in the homogeneous Japanese population. What is more, these friendships and connections in fact do extend beyond University through the hiring processes, work life, old boys and old girls meet ups and even coaching.
As one footballer put it:
“When you score a goal, it really feels great with all your teammates coming towards you. Also, since it’s small scale, all my team members are super close and we go out to Disneyland and stuff even with our senpais(seniors). The closeness with my teammates is one of the reason I haven’t quit.”
In a very practical way the consistent involvement in the hardcore bukatsu life style looks great on a resume. It is an honest signal of character traits including tenacity, hard work , team working, people skills, discipline, time management and responsibility. These values are especially valuable amongst graduates of extremely academically competitive institutions where smarts, concentration and knowledge are emphasized and expected.
For the international student the bukatsu offers an unmatched first hand intensive head dive into Japanese culture unlike any other. Japanese friends are generally willing to teach and within an environment which allows for the osmotic acquisition of knowledge of the subtleties of Japanese culture including use of keigo (honorific language). Any international student is sure to have a profound grasp of Japanese values through this experience. Bukatsu in fact almost resembles a Japanese workplace, unity – not individuality – is emphasized, and strict social hierarchies are in place.
Finally there is legacy. Looking back in a more abstract way the bukatsu experience is one only available during the 4 year university life period. It isn’t rare to have working men lament in the way his former lacrosse player did:
“The greatest emotion I have ever felt was during lacrosse when my friend who wasn’t very good but worked the hardest on the team scored our winning goal. You really learn to fight for the team not for yourself .”
These are the experiences which are in a sense priceless. The ones that come rushing back as we sort through the old baseball gloves in the storage or discover the old polaroid where you were geared up in your football helmet decades ago.
5 major Cons joining a Sport Club
- Time consuming
- Opportunity cost (internships, class etc)
- Language barrier
- Cultural barrier
- Mental and Physical costs
Time is without a doubt the greatest sacrifice a student involved in Bukatsu has to endure. Like clockwork there will be large chunks of time slots dedicated to traveling to training and returning from trainings. What’s more, there may be mandatory meetings and gym training sessions all of which will take up a considerable amount of time.
As one member of the girls football club at UTokyo puts it:
“Well, choosing to do a bukatsu is really really time consuming, and specially if you’re a PEAK student or an exchange student, there’s a possibility that you’ve never been a part of any clubs before…. I mean India never had any concept of a club… But once you belong to the right club that suits you, I think it’s a great experience”
These activities of course will lead to both mentally and physical strain and tire. This of course will detract from the focus one is able to place on his or her schoolwork and or other extracurricular activities.
Along with the time lost it must be highlighted that the University experience is one filled with many opportunities. Choosing any one of these means that the student will automatically forgo other possibilities. This is especially true in the case of the extremely demanding bukatsu. The opportunity cost whether that be a night out drinking, study abroad or an internship should be considered.
The final con is specifically geared towards the international student who will face challenges in this new environment which native Japanese will not. The difference in cultural values will undoubtedly cause misunderstandings especially towards the beginning of one’s life as a member of the bukatsu. It is almost a given that international students will receive extra attention for better or worst. A particularly outgoing, positive and interesting persona is best fitting in the scenarios.
As a member of the American football Bukatsu put it
“My bukatsu has extremely few foreign faces and as such i receive a lot of attention. This does make my training a bit uncomfortable at times as my mistakes are immediately pointed out yet its great fun as we are able to have interesting cultural exchanges off the field and bigs smiles and laughter tend to punctuate all conversations with teammates and coaches alike. It’s great fun especially when you have an upbeat personality.”
In conclusion the bukatsu at the very least an experience one should consider in coming to a Japanese university. Above I have pretty much summed up the pros and cons and whether an individual decides really depends on the himself and whether the benefits do are worth it.
And if one does decide to take that path it is without a doubt set to be one of the most unforgettable experiences they will have.