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Thread: "Symbol athletes" in Japan

  1. #1
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    "Symbol athletes" in Japan

    When Miki Ando was chosen for the Olympics over Yukari Nakano there was a big fuss about whether the Japanese Skating Federation was pushing Ando because of all her commercial endorsements.

    I never understood this, because why would the Japanese Skating Federation care whether it was Ando or Nakano who got rich?

    A recent article in Spotlight in Skating explains the deal more clearly. First, apparently it was the Japanese Olympic Committee, not the Figure Skating Federation, who stood to gain.

    "Many Japanese journalists suspect that Ando was chosen because the JOC has annointed her, along with Suguri and Arakawa, as "symbol athletes." The JOC controls the three skaters' image rights and receives payment when they appear in commercials. Ando is in high demand; she has appeared in commercials for eight companies this year and recently signed a long-term deal with Toyota.

    "'Symbol athletes' receive one million yen (about $9000 in U.S. dollars) a year for their endorsements, but compaies pay the JOC far more. Japanese news outlets report that the JOC's profit between 2005 and 2008 is expected to reach 7.8 billion yen, a huge increase over then prior four years."


    I wonder if these "image rights" contracts extend to the years after the skater turns pro?
    Last edited by Mathman; 07-13-2006 at 10:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Sexy, smart and sterilized! childfreegirl's Avatar
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    Dang!

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    In my heart, I'm actually Canadian....
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    There is just something about this that strikes me as being more than a little unethical.

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    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    I wonder what the fallout has been since the OLYs, anyone hear for sure. There was some speculation but I don't think I heard anything for sure. Yah it is one of those things I could look up my self, but where is the fun in that

    Not saying I agree with their choices, but I would not be a good one to decide, just looking at this with an open mind.

    It sounds like they don't want to be wrong on their "investment."

    As far as who the public (not so much the skating "junkie") wants to see, well just look at Miki. She is really a "uniquely" beautiful girl. Really has a "sexy" appeal to her that is not really that common - maybe a little bit of that "girl next door look" too. They could obtain the same rights to Yukari, and may.....?

    I think we all know the sport needs more money, particularly when there is the "embezzle factor" going on.

    And lest we forget that she did get that Quad, which even if it never happens again for her, this would not have be AS publicized that the Japanese had the first Lady to do. I really think it was important for them to get that recognition, and it was the best chance to get one in the Olys.

    Last, one could always argue that Yukari has more time. I might not feel so comfortable in saying that because "Skating life" seems really short sometimes and you can never tell.
    And really, this is "reminiscent" of an other issue of who goes and stays when it came to the team composition, how good a country looks, who the world wants to see more than? JAT
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 07-13-2006 at 04:18 PM.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaniBu
    And really, this is "reminiscent" of an other issue of who goes and stays when it came to the team composition, how good a country looks, who the world wants to see more than?
    Comparing Michelle's situation with Miki's, I think both of the two National Federations ended up in a position that they wished they could have avoided.

    In Ando's case, the Japanese federation installed a point system for selection of their Olympic team at a time when it looked like Miki couldn't miss. Then when Ando unexpectedly faltered and Nakano came on like gang busters, they were stuck. It all came down to whether Yoshie Onda would be placed ahead of Nakano in fourth place at Japanese Nationals (Ando skated poorly and took sixth).

    Many people suspected that the judges gave Onda a boost just to make the Olympic placements come out the way they did.

    It didn't help that meanwhile, on the men's side, they recalculated the point total, and decided that Takahashi actually outpointed Oda even though they had announced Oda the winner.

    In the U.S. the procedure was different, but still awkward for USFS. As near as I can understand it, they passed some new "clarifications" of the rules about petitioning for an Olympic berth in the case of a skater who missed nationals due to injury. Miraculously, that very situation occurred, almost as if they had expected it!

    This would be OK, except that USFS has always adopted a holier-than-thou attitude toward other federations who chose their Olympic teams in smoke-filled back rooms. Truth, Justice and the American Way (although perhaps not the fine print of the USFS by-laws) say, first place, second place and third place at nationals go to the Olympics, or you better have a darn good reason why. (For instance, a strong case could have been made that Orsher and Lucash would have been a better bet at Torino than Hinzman and Parchem, but it didn't work out that way at nationals.)

    As it turned out, IMHO, Michelle saved everyone's cookies by showing her face in the opening ceremonies, then bowing to reality and withdrawing immediately so as not to steal Emily Hughes' thunder. Emily skated well and enjoyed the experience, Michelle kept her word, USFS laid low, and somehow it all worked out without anyone ending up with egg on their faces.
    Last edited by Mathman; 07-13-2006 at 08:42 PM.

  6. #6
    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Comparing Michelle's situation with Miki's,
    I didn't try to do that at all, I really meant "reminiscent" in the purest form of the word. I am not comparing I swear!!!!!!

    Thery're not comparable, it just reminded me of something.

    Believe me, I like my life and don't want the MK squad out to get me. Particularly when there is only one similarity, but to look any deeper one would find they are not comparable!

    What about any of the other thoughts I brought up?

    And I think they though a darn good reason was because ...well I explained that prior.

    OK I read your post, I really agree - except that I was compairing - and I feel the statement I made in response to your original post are totally valid and some opinionated but valid points of view. And again I will say - I said something about that whole situation, that once a person fully understands the ins and outs, they should (I DO) feel more comfortable with. I might have thought something different could of occurred and that may not be at all possible. I was speaking more on the behalf of a general consensus and valued the feed back GS could give to create a better understanding for others who really felt like "bad mouthing" some one I have HIGH ADMIRATION FOR!

    But the younger vs. older, Fedr makes a decision reminded me, that's all.
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 07-13-2006 at 09:11 PM.

  7. #7
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaniBu
    I didn't try to do that at all, I really meant "reminiscent" in the purest form of the word. I am not comparing I swear!!!!!!...

    Believe me, I like my life and don't want the MK squad out to get me.
    See, here's the secret. You have to join the MK squad youself, then it's OK to criticize her. Sort of like, only Nixon could go to China.

    Like me. As long as I post four gushes for every critique, I'm safe.

    How about that 1998 Rachmaninov short program!

    MM

  8. #8
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaniBu
    What about any of the other thoughts I brought up?...

    And I think they thought a darn good reason was because ...well I explained that prior.
    That is the big problem that I have with the Olympics. That is, with the fact that figure skating continues to identify itself as an "Olympic sport" instead of a "real sport" that can stand on its own two blades.

    Given that the Olympic Games is first and foremost a big commercial and patriotic television event, and, oh, by the way, there are some sporting contests going on for our diversion, it does make sense that the Olympic team should be chosen according to who the audience wants to see, who can bring in the most advertising revenue, who is the most telegenic, who has a million dollar endorsement contract, and all the rest.

    The idea of having a competition to decide who the best skater is, that kind of gets lost in the shuffle.

    JMO.

    MM

  9. #9
    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    That is the big problem that I have with the Olympics. That is, with the fact that figure skating continues to identify itself as an "Olympic sport" instead of a "real sport" that can stand on its own two blades.
    I concur!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    See, here's the secret. You have to join the MK squad youself, then it's OK to criticize her.
    I guess what I know about who I admire is different and I don't gush over her enough for everyone else to know. I feel like there is enough people doing that already here, and I agree with 99% of it. I have said "She was the FSer that made me want to know more about FS." I remember a kind of coming out for me when I was working in the Kitchen in 98 talking with all the waitresses about her "back scratch spin" and getting the looks from the guys. She was the one who got me to come out of the closet so to speak. I have said "no one dances like MK on the ice."
    Oh and here is one for all of you, she is only one of two framed pictures I have of a FSer. And it is a 16" x 12 1/2, glass and the whole nine. - COI 2003

    so I LOVE MICHELLE! but I leave the gushing to the others that do enough for my part.
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 07-15-2006 at 07:32 PM.

  10. #10
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Sean, I was just kidding about all that MK fan club stuff.

    But about the topic at hand, I don't think anyone blames the athletes for any of this. The show up, they skate, they do their best.

    Questions about the ethics of the powerful organizations that control them, on the other hand, that's certainly fair game.

    MM

  11. #11
    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman
    Sean, I was just kidding about all that MK fan club stuff.
    Now you tell me Well now you know!

    BTW Carter made it China, eventually - but I am sure you knew that and it wasn't the.....Sorry TMI again from SeaniBu
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 07-13-2006 at 09:54 PM.

  12. #12
    Mr. Michelle Kwan Spirit's Avatar
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    Thank you for the article, MM. I find it very interesting.

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