According to tourism executives in Boston, baseball will create waves in China in the near future. The indication of China getting closer to Boston is already here: Hainan Airlines is all set to start its first direct Boston to Beijing flight and Attract China, a marketing firm, is feverishly promoting the city’s Fenway Park to Chinese tourists, among many other city tourist attractions.
Attract China has a staff strength of 20 in Beijing and almost all of them are pushing Weibo since last year to understand which localities of Boston attract Chinese the most. Other than the popular Harvard and MIT, Fenway Park surprisingly came second on the list. The Green Monster-the field wall on the left of the stadium is believed to be a contributor in this regard. As players here dress partially in red, which is believed by the Chinese to be a lucky color, and face the green evil monster, a negative color in China, the Chinese could not resist watching the game. Ironically, baseball has negligible popularity in China.
The person responsible for changing this is Leon Xie. He is the Managing Director of Major League Baseball in China and fathered the reality show named Perfect Pitch. The show aims to disseminate the culture of Baseball far and wide in the most populous country of the world. Auditions for future players started at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, which hundreds of applicants from all over China attended.
Baseball, Confucius and China
There is hope that Leon Xie can achieve success in his task. League attendance increased four-fold in Taiwan when Manny Ramirez completed a short stint in that part of the world. Thus there is no cohesive reason why baseball cannot be popular in China.
Jim Small, Major League’s Asia head, drew a similarity between baseball and Confucianism. He pointed out that, in both instances, there is the absence of the clock, an emphasis on the team rather than the individual, and the dominance of threes.
However, when the Chinese team defeated Brazil at the World Baseball Classic in neighboring Japan, and earned itself a place in the game’s 2017 tournament, the Chinese expressed no interest. This is more indicative of the future of the game in China compared to Xie’s fervent hope that baseball’s distinctions of family values, teamwork and fair play will hopefully change the sporting landscape of China.
Attract China has not stopped at marketing baseball to would-be Chinese tourists. They have also published the Boston city map in Chinese. The map is passport sized and red colored. It is free and can be found at Chinatown restaurants, information kiosks and in a number of hotels within Boston city limits.
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