Exchanges target sports development
China’s collegiate sports federation has extended its partnership with its US counterpart for two more years.
The Federation of University Sports of China and the Pac12 Conference, a collegiate athletic conference in the western United States, announced at the China-US University Sports and Education Summit on Friday that it would extend their partnership for two more years.
It is aimed at helping China’s collegiate sports system balance academic and athletic pursuits.
The partnership will continue hosting annual summits, games and college soccer and basketball teams through 2018. They will also organize trips to the US for 200 Chinese college coaches to learn from their American counterparts annually at Pac-12 colleges.
“Chinese universities traditionally put great emphasis on academic reputations while neglecting the importance of students’ athletic development. The US model of highlighting sport’s role in education has inspired us to reform our current system for more balanced student development,” said Yang Liguo, vice-president and secretarygeneral of the Federation of University Sports of China.
The success of the US collegiate program is evident. Current and former athletes from Pac-12 institutes, including Stanford University and UCLA, won a combined 25 gold medals at the Rio Olympics in August, which would have put the conference in fourth spot in the medal tally if counted as a “nation”.
In contrast, most athletes on China’s 26 gold medal Rio team are products of the traditional State-run sports system, which drafts talented students from a young age into national camps or sports schools where they undergo rigorous training with limited access to academic education.
“Hopefully, with the support from Pac-12 and our improvement, we can have more Olympians come through the college system in the near future,” Yang said.
Former NBA All Star Yao Ming, who also attended the summit, stressed that it’s more crucial to change people’s mindsets than apply the US model in China.
“As a father, I pledged to support my daughter to spend more time in sports but I still get anxious when her test results are not good enough,” said Yao, who has a six-yearold daughter.
“So it’s more important to educate more people, including parents and the future employers of students, to value more of sport’s significance as away of education,” he said.
As part of the exchange, Stanford’s men’s basketball team played two friendly games against squads from Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University during its tour this week.
Larry Scott, commissioner of Pac-12, said, “It’s one of the purposes of what we do that we can learn from each other. China has a lot of potential to evolve in the direction where elite academic universities build strong cultures of sport as well. And we are honored to play a role in that,” he said.