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The Stress of the SwingArticle 1 of 2
Written by Bumm Jimmy Kim | Published. 2020.11.03 09:46 | Count : 101
[Photo of the writer playing for the Korea youth national team, 2016. Photo courtesy of Sookkyung Han]

Around this time of the year, baseball fans around the world prepare to cheer themselves hoarse for their favorite teams as they come up to bat. While I too enjoy watching baseball, there is a part of me that aches every time I hear the crack of a ball being struck by a bat. Once a promising baseball player, I was crippled by a severe injury and had to give up my dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. Injuries such as mine are not uncommon in the world of baseball. Players on the field are always at risk of accidents that could end their careers. However, not everyone realizes the psychological burden that players carry. As a former baseball player, I always feel sympathy watching players fighting their own battles, which are not always depicted in the media.

Each and every player faces a battle of their own, and this is not just the stress of being on the starting line-up or the result of the games. I remember when I was a player myself, stress was with me in every game and at every practice. It was not simply about performing. It was trying to please my coaches, to show my parents something to be proud of, and to live up to the expectations of others. Every good game I had, I stressed over whether I could keep playing well. Every bad game I had, I stressed over how I could play better and whether I would be able to start in the next game. It was always an ongoing battle with the thought of “What’s waiting for me after this?” 

[Photo of the writer interviewing Mr. Hyunmin Cho, Senior Director of Sports Intelligence Group, a sports agency based in Seoul, Korea. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim] 

I was just a junior professional player, so I began to wonder what real professional players went through every day in order to continue their careers. From an outsider’s perspective, professional players are almost like K-pop idols. They seem invincible to everything and so when one falls, their fans and anti-fans alike berate them. However, as a former player myself, I know that these players must struggle under the stress of such high expectations. So, I decided to find out what the team managers had to say about their perspective on players’ stress. To gain such first-hand accounts, I visited Sports Intelligence, a professional sports management firm based in South Korea. I had the chance to talk with the CEO, Mr. Hyunmin Cho, to inquire about the different types of stress players’ experience.

[Photo of the writer interviewing Mr. Hyunmin Cho, Senior Director of Sports Intelligence Group, a sports agency based in Seoul, Korea. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kim] 

When I asked Mr. Cho about the different kinds of stress that professional players experience, he brought up a player who suffered a hamstring injury early in the season. Despite the warnings, this player pushed himself too hard before he was fully healed, leading to another hamstring injury. Even for players on a professional team, the battle for the starting line-up is a constant source of stress. In these cases, Mr. Cho told me, it is his job to stop players from making rash decisions. He added that for some players, the major source of stress did not come from their gameplay. For some, “the lack of sponsored goods,” such as sports equipment or personal supplies, affects the player’s mentality and gives them additional stress. In these cases, “we try our best to provide the players what they lack to relieve their stress.” Mr. Cho was quick to add that these were only two out of the numerous issues that plague players every day.

Even professional players are, however cliché it may sound, still just human beings. When these talented players leave the stadium, they are just another father, mother, son, daughter, or someone’s special person. These people are still in need of a way to release their stress in a reasonable way. In the next article, I will focus on the methodology teams have begun to use to mitigate the stress of their players.






Bumm Jimmy Kim
Grade 12
Saint Louis School (Hawaii)

(Article 2 of 2)

Bumm Jimmy Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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