Dispatches from China

Not just fun and games

Recently I had the honor of accompanying a 17 member delegation of senior Chinese sports administrators from the Beijing Sports University (BSU), China’s preeminent Olympic athletic training institution, on their first visit to Madison.

They were in town to take a closer look at the university’s training facilities and educational programs as part of the Chinese Champions Program. The program is a collaboration between BSU and UW-Madison, which started in 2009.

BSU, after conducting an extensive search, selected UWM to be its partner; in large part due to the efforts of UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin and several other key Wisconsinites.

The first part of the three-year program began in 2010. It brought a group of Chinese Olympic athletes to Madison, for six months, to learn about how UW-Madison athletes balance sports and studies. Keep in mind at a sports university in China most of the day is spent in rigorous training with little time left for studies. Students are isolated and trips home are few and far between. Until recently little attention was paid to what these athletes could or would do after their playing days ended. For most the only options were to secure a job within the sports system or do menial labor. It should then come as no surprise that both students and administrators were anxious to learn about how the U.S.’s $414 billion a year (2009) sports industry works and the roles athletes and others in the industry can play on and off the field.

Read more here in BizTimes Milwaukee.

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