Sport again: HS Coach refuses to meet Lotte foreign coach due to “language barrier”


This is an addendum to my post earlier today (, on Trey Hillman’s getting bad-mouthed by a player for a sports decision due to being foreign:

During the September 25 high school draft picks for professional teams, one of the stars, Ohmine Yuuta, got his hopes up to be picked by Softbank Hawks. It was supposed to be a done deal, but Bobby Valentine, coach of Chiba Lotte, put in a bid as well for him. As is the established precedent, both Softbank and Lotte drew from a lottery, and Lotte by chance won. Suddenly. Ohmine declined to join Lotte, which is quite a scandal. Furthermore, the HS captain of the team Ohmine played for, Ishimine Yoshimori, refused to even meet with Valentine on September 26, citing the following reason:

“He won’t comprehend our words or feelings.” (「言葉も気持ちも通じない」)

Thus Coach Ishimine publicly rebuked Valentine essentially for his foreignness, citing a language barrier as an excuse.

Courtesy Sports Houchi (September 27, 2006,

Nice how issues of foreignness keep coming up like this. Major coaches with worldwide reputations, like Valentine, are still just gaijin to be dismissed in Japan, unworthy of being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

And does Valentine deserve it! He brought Lotte to its first pennant win last year in a generation–31 years–the first foreign coach ever to do so.

It looks like Trey Hillman may be the second, two years running.

(This issue came up while researching one of my papers:
“On Language and Nationality”
which will be given at Linguapax Asia 2006 Third International Symposium
Tokyo University, Saturday, October 7, 2006, 2:00-2:30PM)

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