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Messages from Keidanren Executives September, 2018 The Significance of Student Sports

Kosei SHINDO Vice Chair, Keidanren
Representative Director and President, NIPPON STEEL & SUMITOMO METAL CORPORATION

Recently, a dangerous foul play during an intercollegiate game of American football has sparked controversy. This problem made me think about various things, since I support the players as the head of the alumni organization of my university's rugby club. In the first place, for what purpose do students play sports at universities, where their first duty is to study?

There are phrases of "being good at both academics and sports," and "a sound mind in a sound body." These are said to be the educational ideal. They probably mean that human beings are not perfect with intellectual and mental activities alone, but physical discipline is also needed to support a sound mind. In addition to this, students can acquire sportsmanship (and sportswomanship) and the "spirit of fair play" ultimately through their own experiences. I believe this is the purpose of student sports.

In rugby, there is a phrase: "For side, On side, No side." This phrase represents the essence of the "spirit of fair play." That is to say, players must do their best in a game by abandoning their personal ambitions for their teams ("For side,") and complying with rules ("On side," which means not breaking the offside rule). Then, once the game is over, players should praise each other irrespective of winners or losers ("No side").

Also in the business world where we live, the spirit is alive. Even if you look around the world, there is no work that can be done by a single person alone. Most works are done by organizations or teams. So, team work is important. We make efforts to be selected in fierce competitions while ensuring compliance. We frankly accept the results of individual competitions and then turn to next businesses. What is important here is fair play.

With respect to the recent problem, I read an article in a newspaper column, which was titled "The downfall of "Taiikukai-kei" (sports-oriented) people." The article defines "Taiikukai-kei people" as those who uncritically follow orders from their superiors and do not have their own opinions, and claims that companies no longer need such people. Basically, I am not opposed to the claim, but I feel something wrong about seeing all "Taiikukai-kei people" (those who have experience in sports at universities and other places) as those types of people. What is important is the ideal candidates for companies and society are those who have acquired the "spirit of fair play" and firmly cultivate their characters through sports along with hard studying. I would like to express my expectations for school education, including universities, to play a role in training and developing such talents.