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Confucianism, Baseball and Ethnic Stereotyping in Taiwan

Unlike the experience of indigenous people in some societies, notably North America and Australia, where there is a significant modern sporting culture to which indigenous people contribute relatively little, in Taiwan the situation is reversed. Here the sporting culture is relatively underdeveloped in large part, we argue, because of the continuing influence of Confucian ideas, but aborigines play a disproportionately significant role not least in what is the most visible aspect of that sporting culture – baseball. Drawing upon existing published work together with interviews and personal communications, this article examines the extent to which sport in Taiwan, and specifically baseball, reflects the ongoing influence of Confucian attitudes towards physical cultures in Taiwanese society not least in relation to the stereotyping of the island’s indigenous population. Given the status of baseball as Taiwan’s national sport and in light of the contribution made to national teams by aboriginal players, these findings are hugely significant. They suggest that, as in the case of women, traditional Confucian values not only have an impact in relation to physical activity but, by extension, affect the ways in which a specific social group is perceived more widely.