Topics Discussed and Key Points:
● The landscape of sports in China today
● How motivation to go into sports differs between kids in China versus kids in the West
● The development of sports infrastructure in China
● The importance of sports celebrities in driving the popularity of sports in China
● Popular sports in China today
● Physicality in Chinese sports
● Educating Chinese parents in the world of sports
● Chinese athletes going international
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Radley Mackenzie, Founder and CEO at SinoSports Development, “a China-focused international sports and education platform, supporting Asian student-athletes with online and offline expertise and exposure” based in Toronto. Radley is also the President of consulting firm Radley Hall International and the Toronto Representative for high-tech manufacturing company Saimen.
To this day, education is a higher priority for the youth in China than the arts or sports. Radley notes that, originally, “sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally.” He likens it to the Soviet approach to national pride.
The government’s traditional approach was to handpick who they consider to be the best performers and optimize their athletic capacity in isolation, i.e. without the support athletes in most other countries enjoy.
Fortunately, this decade has seen a wider adoption of sports. On one hand, parents now see sports as a great way to complement their children’s education at school. On the other hand, the government itself now sees the economic benefits of sports and has encouraged wider participation in recent years. In fact, the Chinese government has announced that they would like to have 300 million winter sports enthusiasts involved in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Over the last 20 years, badminton, ping pong, and martial arts have been the most popular sports in China. Western sports have seen massive growth in more recent years, in particular basketball, soccer, and tennis. Last year, according to the NBA commissioner, there were 300 million basket players in China. Today’s soccer players number around 30 million, and tennis players around 15 million. Figure skating is also seeing greater popularity, with around 1 million skaters across China.
“Originally, sports in China was closely tied to national program development. The Chinese government has always thought sports were an important flagship for them globally.
“SinoSports was originally founded on increasing human contact between coaches and players in both markets.”
“Sports are a sector right now where China is desperate and eagerly looking for foreign expertise and have recognized that they can’t do it alone.”