Ex­changes tar­get sports de­vel­op­ment

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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