In­ter­est grows in Amer­i­can-style an-style sport on Chi­nese cam­puses uses

Au­thor­i­ties dis­cuss healthy mix­ture of aca­demic ac­tiv­ity and team games

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

Few in China think of basketball when Stan­ford and Har­vard are men­tioned, but it’swhat’s over­looked here about the two uni­ver­si­ties that con­trib­utes greatly to their world­wide pres­tige.

The em­pha­sis on ath­letic de­vel­op­ment of the two aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions, high­lighted by a basketball game played be­tween them dur­ing their re­cent China trip, has in­spired ed­u­ca­tors, of­fi­cials and celebri­ties to re­flect on the un­der­de­vel­oped role played by sports in China’s higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

The ex­cite­ment of the game— won by Stan­ford, 80-70, in Shang­hai on Nov 11 in the squads’ NCAA sea­son opener— has faded, but the im­pact is last­ing.

“The col­le­giate ath­letic sys­tem in the US has been world-fa­mous in not only de­vel­op­ing elite ath­letes but also cul­ti­vat­ing lead­ers in other fields. We are learn­ing and bor­row­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences to ad­just our own pro­gram to en­hance sport’s role in ed­u­ca­tion as a whole,” said Yang Liguo, vice-pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion of Univer­sity Sports China, the Chi­nese coun­ter­part of the NCAA.

Yang made the re­marks at the China-US Univer­sity Sports and Ed­u­ca­tion Sum­mit held be­fore the game.

Univer­sity lead­ers, ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials and sports ex­ec­u­tives, es­pe­cially from Pac-12 and the Ivy League, two ma­jor col­le­giate sports con­fer­ences in the US, at­tended the sum­mit to ex­change ideas and best prac­tices on col­le­giate sports de­vel­op­ment in panel dis­cus­sions.

The FUSC also an­nounced the ex­ten­sion of its part­ner­ship with Pac12, a col­le­giate ath­letic con­fer­ence of 12 uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing Stan­ford and UCLAin the west­ernUS, for twom­ore years to send 200 Chi­nese col­lege coaches to train on US cam­puses an­nu­ally through 2018.

Yet what mat­ters more than im­prov­ing coach­ing in China’s aca­demic-dom­i­nant sys­tem is chang­ing peo­ple’s mind­set, Yang said.

“In the US I found it’s hard to call stu­dents back to the class­room from the sports field, while in China it’s hard to per­suade them to go out to ex­er­cise on the play­ground,” he re­called dur­ing a re­cent trip to the US for a field study.

“To change the idea that play­ing sport is wast­ing time and to in still the con­cept that par­tic­i­pat­ing in sports teaches valu­able life lessons, such as team­work, lead­er­ship and time­m­an­age­ment among Chi­nese teach­ers, school lead­ers, par­ents and em­ploy­ers, is just as im­por­tant.”

Larry Scott, the com­mis­sioner of Pac-12, said prov­ing that point was the rea­son be­hind bring­ing twoof the best-known US uni­ver­si­ties to play a basketball game in China, rather than to at­tend an aca­demic sym­po­sium.

“China has a lot of po­ten­tial to pos­si­bly in­volve elite aca­demic uni­ver­si­ties with­as­trong cul­ture of sports. We are hon­ored to play a role in the peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change.”

Toup­gradeChina’s col­le­giate sports de­vel­op­ment with theUS­mod­e­lasan ex­am­ple, the Chi­nese pro­gram needs to set up a con­fer­ence sys­tem where schools with prox­im­ity and sim­i­lar in­ter­ests com­pete, said Robin Har­ris, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ivy League.

The Ivy League com­prised eight pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing Har­vard and Yale, in the north­east­ernUS that play 33 sports in divi­sion one of NCAA.

“I sug­gest that China looks for like-minded schools that will ap­proach athletics sim­i­larly, so they can com­pete in sim­i­lar rules and work well to­gether,” she said.

Cit­ing the fact that Har­vard ath­letes had to keep up with their school work dur­ing their China trip, Har­ris also stressed the im­por­tance of mak­ing a smart sports cal­en­dar in line with school semesters to al­low stu­dent to man­age their time.

“The game be­tween Stan­ford and Har­vard sent a strong mes­sage. The fact that you saw great ath­letes who are also stu­dents at both schools shows you can do both, be­cause we al­low stu­dents the time to prac­tice, to com­pete and then they have time to sit for study and to have fun with their class­mates.”

FANG ZHE / XIN­HUA

Basketball play­ers from col­leges in China and the United States dur­ing a friendly game at Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity on Nov 9.

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