Approaching the new era of Waseda sportsFri, Jul 30, 2021
Increasing Interactions between Fans and Sports Clubs and Strengthening the Foundation of University Sports
Waseda University held a press conference at Okuma Kaikan, on the Waseda Campus, to announce the launch of the “Waseda Sports BEYOND 125 Project,” a mid-to-long-term sports promotion initiative to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Waseda sports in 2022. The university also unveiled its new common logo that will represent all 44 sports clubs of the university.
The Waseda Sports BEYOND 125 Project aims to promote sports and develop the overall brand of Waseda University. The project hopes to foster a sense of unity both inside and outside the university by increasing interactions between fans and each sports club. Further, the initiative intends to strengthen the foundation of Waseda sports through platforms for merchandising, crowdfunding, and sports gifting.
The year 1897 marked the beginning of Waseda sports with the establishment of the Athletic Club, which later became the Athletic Center that currently oversees the university’s 44 sports clubs. Well over a century later, the university now regards the next 125 years to be the “new era of Waseda sports” based on the “125 years of life” theory proposed by its founder Shigenobu Okuma, who loved sports and encouraged exercise.
“I want to restore a sense of unity and make this the model for university sports”—President Tanaka
At the press conference, President Tanaka, who is the first president of Waseda University to have participated in a sports club (karate club), greeted reporters and expressed his aspirations by stating, “After graduating from the School of Political Science and Economics, I completed my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Political Science at the Ohio State University, a powerhouse in American football. After studying in the U.S. for ten-and-a-half years, I realized firsthand how university sports play a role in uniting students, faculties, staff, graduates, and townspeople alike. The year 2022 will mark the 125th anniversary of Waseda sports. Poignantly, the year will also mark the 100th anniversary of Okuma’s death. Therefore, I would like to restore the sense of unity between Waseda’s sport clubs and all those involved in the university, and make this the model for university sports.”
The new logo, obtained through a general open call for designs and symbolizing the 44 sports clubs was revealed at the press conference. Coach Satoru Komiyama of the baseball club (a 1990 graduate of the School of Education) and Takumi Kato of the soccer club (a senior student of the School of Sport Sciences) appeared wearing warm-up shirts displaying the new logo and the official uniform. The new logo will adorn various items of sports equipment and merchandised goods available for sale.
When concluding the press conference, the Director of the Athletic Center and Professor in the Faculty of Sport Sciences Masayuki Ishii stated, “Waseda University has set a significant academic goal of ‘creating a Waseda that shines on the world stage,’” and we intend to achieve this goal in sports as well. In the future, we would like to consider the opinions of students and requests of each sports club before implementing the BEYOND 125 Project. As always, Waseda University continues to believe that its mission is to bring the dream of university sports to life. You can look forward to the preservation of Waseda’s traditions and the reform that will shape the next 125 years.”
Coach Satoru Komiyama of the Baseball Club
“This is the first time we have attempted to use a common logo for all the sports clubs. Following the rules of university baseball, I had the logo placed on the left sleeve of the ‘charge top’ worn during practice. To ensure players are aware that they are representatives of Waseda, I will explain the meaning of the logo and will strive to deliver strong results at Jingu Stadium. If possible, I would like to have this logo placed in a visible location in each of the sports clubs’ facilities so that students can train while thinking that ‘the other sports clubs are also doing their best.’ The baseball club will also work its hardest to live up to the expectations this logo carries.”
Takumi Kato of the Soccer Club
“This year marks the 97th year since the establishment of the soccer club. I think this uniform encapsulates both the past achievements of many of our seniors and the future aspirations of our soccer club. That is the feeling that all our members will have standing on the field. From this season onward, the soccer club will compete wearing the new logo on its uniform. I hope that this common logo will allow all 44 clubs to join forces in competing together, and will enable Waseda University as a whole to take the lead in university sports. As symbolized by the logo design, we will do our best to climb to the top of mountains.”
Masato Fujita, First Prize Winner in the Contest for the Common Logo for All Sports Clubs
“I am a designer and a company employee. I decided to challenge myself and applied as an individual as I have not had many chances designing logos. I designed a logo that embodies the concept of ‘reaching the top’, and depicts a mountain range incorporating both Shigenobu Okuma’s ‘bear’ as a motif and the diamond-shaped academic cap that symbolizes Waseda University. I would like to support Waseda sports going forward.”
Overview of the Waseda Sports BEYOND 125 Project
The year 2022 represents the 125th anniversary of the 1897 establishment of the Athletic Club (presently the Athletic Center) at Tokyo Senmon Gakko, the predecessor of Waseda University. The university has systematically promoted excellence in both academics and sports through initiatives such as the Sports Bureau—now replaced by the Athletic Center—and the establishment of the Waseda Athletes Program in 2014. In addition, the university has strived to develop global leaders who can support society by creating a new model for university sports and contributing to the sporting world and the betterment of the population. However, the recent drastic changes experienced by Waseda sports and university sports in general have created challenges such as the lack of an overall strategy for Waseda sports and the development of the university brand.
Therefore, the launch of the Waseda Sports BEYOND 125 Project will mark 2022 as “the year that begins the second era of Waseda sports.”
With this project, Waseda University aims to foster a sense of unity inside and outside the university and strengthen the foundation of Waseda sports to both maximize the satisfaction (value) for the university’s stakeholders and ensure Waseda remains at the forefront of university sports reform in Japan.
In 2020, the university created the “common logo for all sports clubs” as “Phase 0” (i.e., kick-off) of this project. In addition, a project video featuring students from each sports club was developed to foster a sense of unity inside and outside the university.
From 2021 to 2025, platforms for merchandising, crowdfunding, and sports gifting which involves fans gifting points to athletes will be developed as “Phase 1” of the project. The university aims to deepen the sense of unity and fan engagement for Waseda sports through these platforms.
To strengthen merchandising, the university’s basic organizational cooperation agreements with the ASICS Corporation and the ASICS JAPAN Corporation were renewed for four years on March 1st. Further, Waseda University has become the first non-North American university to secure a collaboration with Fanatics Japan LLC, the Japanese subsidiary of Fanatics Inc., a global leader licensed in sporting goods.
Videos for the Waseda Sports BEYOND 125 Project
At the start of this project, the university created project videos with the aim of preserving the traditions of Waseda sports, leading the reform in university sports post-COVID and post-Tokyo 2020, and advancing Waseda sports in the next 125 years.
The two videos were titled “Recalling Shigenobu Okuma”—about the evolution and reform of Waseda sports— and “Pride of the Deep Red, Accelerate”—about the glory and efforts of Waseda sports.
After watching the videos, the press conference host Tomoko Uemura (a graduate of the School of Human Sciences and an OG cheerleader in the cheerleading club) affirmed, “These videos featured many students from each sports club, and given that I was also a part of the cheerleading club as a student at Waseda University, seeing these videos as an OG sports club member reawakens my passion.”
Recalling Shigenobu Okuma
Accelerate Pride of the Deep Red
Common Symbol Logo
When searching for a design, the university put forth the concept of a logo that incorporates the symbol of a bear, the animal associated with the last name of the founder Shigenobu Okuma. The university further wanted the logo to provide a sense of strength and bravery, reminiscent of American college sports while also uniting the sports clubs, faculties, staff, and graduates.
A total of 491 designs were submitted to the “Common Logo Design Contest for Waseda University’s Sports Clubs,” which was held by Pixiv, the illustration communication service operated by Pixiv Inc. Eleven prize-winning designs were selected from these submissions by the Sports Club Organizing Committee, which includes representatives of each sports club. The bear motif design currently used by each sports club was added to the lineup of eleven selected designs, which were in turn submitted for the “Popularity Vote for the Common Logo of All Sports Clubs” (i.e., an open vote for people inside and outside the university).
On December 23, 2020, a meeting was held by the Common Logo Selection Committee to select the design receiving the most votes as the logo of all sports clubs. A final decision was made once approval was gained from the Executive Board of the university.
Future of the Project
To continue promoting excellence in both academics and sports and to produce global leaders who support society, the university plans to strengthen athlete recruitment (e.g., by encouraging high school-university cooperation), encourage female athletes, embark on a trip abroad to commemorate the 125th anniversary, and implement additional similar initiatives as part of this project.