Overcoming Cultural Barriers in Major League Baseball

Third-year law student Han Gil Lee, former Temple Law Professor N. Jeremi Duru and I recently formed Global Sporting Integration LLC (GSI), a consulting firm specializing in assisting Minor and Major League Baseball (MLB) players from Asian countries successfully transition to the United States.

During the 2013 season, approximately 60 Asian-born players competed in MLB and its farm systems. Often, these players face unique challenges associated with international transplantation—new languages, unfamiliar foods and climates, differences in training schedules and practice regimens, media expectations and even the design of the baseballs and stadium configurations. GSI specializes in creating custom solutions for professional baseball players from Japan, Korea and Taiwan to adapt, survive and thrive while playing in the United States.

Unlike a sports agency, GSI seeks to contract with MLB and its clubs to ease the transition process for Asian players. GSI’s programs include English language education, nutritional consulting, cultural immersion, and more, and will begin at the players’ home countries and see them through the entire transition process.

“When a MLB team signs a player from Asia, the team is not simply adding a new member to its roster, it is bringing a person to start a new life in a foreign environment.” Han Lee, CEO of GSI

“Transitioning to new lives as professional baseball players in America has been an ongoing challenge for MLB and has cost many promising players their careers, resulting in large financial losses for both the players and their clubs.”

“As someone who has represented the interests of international baseball players for over 20 years, I recognize the importance of what GSI brings to the table: a variety of services specifically designed to ease a player’s often difficult transition to the United States. GSI’s services present an exceptional opportunity for MLB, its teams, their players, and the player’s agents and representatives to form more lasting and fruitful relationships, which work to everyone’s benefit,” said Don Nomura, MLB Player’s Association Certified Agent of KDN Sports, Inc., whose clients include Yu Darvish (Texas Rangers) and Kyuji Fujikawa (Chicago Cubs).

Baseball in mittWhile Asian players comprised only 2% of the Major League player population in 2013, MLB has recognized Asia as a fertile source of future players and has set up regional offices in Tokyo and Beijing with that growth in mind. The current wave of players coming from Asia shows no sign of slowing, with new amateur prospects being signed each season and several high profile Asian professional players having expressed an interest in making the move to MLB.

We hope that GSI’s unique and innovative approach, born at Temple Law, will create smooth transitions and consequently long and successful careers for high profile Asian MLB signees.

For more information please visit the Global Sporting Integration website.

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