On June 6 (Beijing Time), the Chinese Baseball League (CBL) has kicked off at Fengtai Sports Center, Beijing.
Founded in 2002, the CBL is the main professional baseball league in China, under the administration of the Chinese Baseball Association. The league was suspended from 2012 to 2013 due to financial issues, but resumed in 2014.
The 2015 season of this competition will see two major changes regarding the teams and match system. More specifically, there will be 10 participating teams while there was only 4 teams competing for the trophy. The other change lies in the match system which has been transited from home-and-away match system to game-meeting match system.
This is a promising sign that shows baseball has found more space for professional development in China with more teams contending for the 2015 CBL.
Nevertheless, there are questions about why China hasn’t a larger league. Song Pingshan, the manager of a leading Beijing-based baseball team, Beijing Tiger, knows clearly that the sport is faced up with financial issues which restricts the development and promotion of the sport in China. Moreover, it appears that “China is in short of top professional baseball teams” and more teams introduced to the league will drop the quality of it consequently.
It is obvious that the development of the sport in China is heavily challenged by financial difficulties. And lacking popularity of the sport is one of the major cause which result in difficulties in attracting sponsors and investors. Practically, baseball is still relatively unknown in second and third tier cities and the countryside. And even in big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, where people at least have a clue about what baseball is, the lack of playing fields is a huge problem.
No matter what Chinese baseball lacks, be it financial supports or playing fields, it also means there are spaces for the sport and for investors as well. With MLB’s promoting efforts launched previously and the rise of collegiate baseball among a range universities and colleges in China, the prospect of the sport has been promising so far.
Like Song argued, it has taken more than 100 years for baseball to develop in the U.S., and later in Japan, and it could be even harder in China, so we really need to be patient to let it grow.
Source: The China Youth Daily, The Beijinger