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Campus Now

October

SPECIAL REPORT

Path of Waseda Athletics

Waseda University is proud of the role that it has played in the development of athletics in Japan.
Now, what can Waseda University do in the future to further uplift athletics in Japan?
Also, how far can the potential of athletics be taken as part of university education?
We shall search for our future path by clarifying the current state of research activities and competitive athletics.

The Frontline of Sports Science Research at Waseda University

A variety of sports science research is performed at Waseda University. We asked three Professors to introduce the front line of that research.

Top Sports Business Research
Sports Exceeds Mere Business, Making Important Contributions to the World

Takeo Hirata, Visiting Professor

Waseda University Sports Science Graduate School
Takeo Hirata, Visiting Professor

I believe that the ultimate crisis faced by Japanese professional baseball in 2004 is still fresh in everyone’s memory. As a result of a deficit of billions of yen held by the Osaka Kintetsu Buffalos, the teams continued existence was questioned due to management problems in the parent company. The Buffalos merged with the Orix BlueWave and the name Kintetsu vanished from the world of Japanese professional baseball. When a team disappears, both the players and the fans that supported the team are in an unfortunate situation. Therefore, I believe that research in sports business in order to maintain the healthy management of professional sports teams is a social mission.

On the other hand, the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles (hereafter referred to as Rakuten), a team which was founded in the same year as the events described above, have continued to be profitable since the first year of their founding. What are the difference between Kintetsu and Rakuten? One difference is that Rakuten possesses its own stadium. For many years, the prevailing thought in Japan was that even if a team possessed its own stadium, a return on investment would not be possible because of construction and maintenance costs. However, if a stadium is privately owned, the team receives a major source of income from the advertising fees for stadium signs and money paid by spectators for food and drinks. Rakuten made a large contribution to the sports world by succeeding in an unprecedented new challenge.

Also, I believe that another major point in the success of Rakuten was the departure from corporate dependence. In the case of conventional professional baseball teams, even if management functioned ineffectively, the team received compensation to cover losses from the parent company. This may have actually prevented growth by contributing to a lack of effort by management. Another clear example is the Urawa Reds, a soccer team which earns the most sales revenues in all of the Japanese Professional Soccer League (J. League). The Reds dissolved their loss compensation contract with Mitsubishi Motors, but have obtained sponsors through their unique sales efforts and have stabilized their management without problem. Examples of success like the Urawa Reds are known as J. League models. This is a business model that is formed from income sources such as admission fees, advertising fees, sales of goods, and TV broadcasting rights. In the case of the J. League, the league performs batch management of income from TV broadcasting rights. The broadcasting income is distributed to each team, and only a small income from TV broadcasting rights can be obtained by the teams. However, in the future of sports business, it is difficult to assume that large amounts of broadcasting income will exist, and it is necessary to establish a balanced income structure similar to the Urawa Reds in order for teams to perform independent management.

Today, when there are increasingly fewer things for citizens to empathize with and express passion about, I believe that the popularity of sports will continue to increase. An example of this was the support for the performance of the swimmer Kitajima at the Beijing Olympics. Coach Hirai, who trains Kitajima, is currently studying in my research office as an adult student in the Waseda University Graduate School of Sports Science. Coach Hirai is searching for a new form for the world of competitive swimming. Along with the obtainment of income, it is necessary to win at the same time and also to spread the popularity of the sport, creating 3 missions which must be fulfilled to succeed in sports business. This is an extremely difficult challenge, but a great sense of achievement comes along with that difficulty. I teach my classes while believing that students currently studying at Waseda University will perform as leaders of sports business in the future.

Sports Psychology
Analyzing Sports and Mental Strength in a Broad Research Field

Hiroaki Masaki, Associate Professor

Waseda University Graduate School of Sports Science
Hiroaki Masaki, Associate Professor

“Sports” and the “mind” cannot be considered separately. The following episode was introduced in a special NHK program on the Athens Olympics. In the finals of the men’s 100 meters breaststroke, American Brendan Hansen, the rival of Kosuke Kitajima, had stood on the starting block. It is said that Norimasa Hirai, the Coach of Kitajima, saw Hansen’s motions and felt that “Kitajima can win this race”. The reason for his impression was that Hansen had stood on the starting block from a different direction from usual, a motion the Hirai judged to indicate “extreme nervousness”. The result was a victory over Hansen and a gold medal for Kitajima, who is a strong mental competitor. The performance of Kitajima at the Beijing Olympics is commonly known. In the past, the Japanese were said to be mentally weak, but I feel admiration for the mental strength that has recently been gained by Japanese athletes.

During post-event interviews at the Beijing Olympics, there was an increase in the number of Japanese athletes who adopted a positive outlook and praised their own efforts through comments such as “I gave it everything I had”, even after disappoint results. It is said that athletes practice giving interviews as well, but I believe that the adherence of sports psychology is evidenced by the fact that phrases that belittle one’s self no longer naturally come from the mouths of Japanese athletes. When losing in a contest, negative expectations such as “I will just lose again next time” are formed when one’s lack of ability is blamed for the loss. However, if the cause for the loss is assigned to effort, a factor which can be controlled, it is possible to create positive motivation by thinking “I can win next time if I make the effort”.

The field of research for sports psychology is very broad. It is commonly thought that sports psychology is equivalent to mental training, but the subject is more complex. One example of this complexity is personality research, which analyzes whether the positive, proactive, and stoic traits which are representative of an athlete’s personality are innate or acquired. Further examples of various research subjects include motor learning research, which examines what kind of training schedules are effective for skill improvement, and research on information processing in the brain, which analyzes the way in which adroit movements are programmed and implemented in the brain.

In sports, even when mistakes are made, the difference between subsequent success or repeated failure is decided by the way in which mistakes are received and corrected. In the future, I want to contribute to the production of outstanding athletes by clarifying the perceptional and behavioral system that links experiences of failure to experiences of success. The benefit of conducting research at the graduate school of Waseda University is not only access to the latest facilities, but also the variety of athletes in terms of events and competitive levels. I hope to perform research that makes full use of this outstanding environment.

Fusion of Sports Kinetics and Biomechanics
Development of Further Competitive Skill by Systemizing Practice Methods and Results

Jun Tsuchiya, Associate Professor

Waseda University Graduate School of Sports Science
Jun Tsuchiya, Associate Professor

During track and field practices in their school days, I am sure that many people have performed “high-step running”, the act of running by raising your knees as high as possible. Actually, “high-step running” is now considered to have little positive effect and is hardly ever performed in recent times. The reason for this change are the results obtained from biomechanical analysis of the sprinting motion of top athletes, which clearly shows that “high-step running” is not necessarily a required skill for fast running.

My research theme is a fusion of sports kinetics, which consists of qualitative assessment of movement, and biomechanics, which uses quantitative analysis. Advanced performance is sought by clarifying the “skills” needed to perform a movement and systemizing the practice method and results. The method of research consists of performing a sports kinetic and biomechanical analysis of the movements of athletes with a high degree of proficiency, and then clarifying the “skill” which is the way of the movement. These results are then used as a basis for the proposal of practice methods to master the movement. Another important part of the research is to implement the proposed practice methods into the athlete’s training routine and analyze the results.

In the future, I believe that it will be important to compile as research the actual cases of skill instruction performed everyday in athletic facilities. This compilation will function as a record of solutions to problems confronted by exercise scientists, much like the “case research” performed in the field of medicine. I believe that this will enable efficient exercise instruction which is even further systemized.

Waseda University possesses the following types of sports-related project research centers.
For detailed research contents, refer to the webpage of Waseda University Project Research Institutes at http://www.kikou.waseda.ac.jp/ (in Japanese).

Name of Research Institute/Institute Director Overview
Research Institute for Elderly Health
Isao Muraoka (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
Perform research relating to the development of exercise programs for the elderly to prevent nursing care, validation of the effect of reduced medical cost and nursing care cost, development of promoters and instructors for programs, and business management/marketing research for the social return of research results.
Research Institute for Sports Medicine
Touru Fukubayashi (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
In relation to medical support for the creation of health in the middle-aged and elderly, create partnerships with fitness clubs. Work with the clubs to create and instruct exercise menus that are appropriate in terms of internal medicine and external medicine. Also, perform research regarding the development and dissimilation of preventive programs to protect competitive level athletes from injury.
Research Institute for Sports Industry
Yoshio Nakamura (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
Seeks to develop and propose a new theoretical framework for sports business as an industry, and to contribute to the creation of a sports industry in the full-scale IT society which will inevitably arise. A partnership is formed with the Professor of the “Frontline of Top Sports Business” class, and research results are published in general interest book of the same name.
Research Institute for Sports Business
Takanori Miyauchi (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
Aid in the development of the sports industry by performing research in a variety of areas, based upon the proposal of solutions for social needs created from dramatic changes in the sports environment, formation of new business models, research into economic effects, and development of professional staff.
Research Institute for Sports Culture
Tsuneo Sogawa (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
In order to adapt to the newly emerging sports condition, the institute strives to develop various research relating to the understanding of the true nature of sports. Research is conducted through the methodologies of human and social sciences such as philosophy, history, social science, cultural anthropology, education, ethics, and dance. At the same time, the institute works to achieve social return.
Top Athlete Institute
Junichi Kasai (Professor at Graduate School of Sports Science)
The institute works to establish a total support system for top athletes through the reformation (efficient utilization) of the existing facilities and human assets of Waseda University. There is also a plan to convey information regarding those results as a “Waseda Model (Global Standard)” relating to a partnership between universities and top sports.