The second Nike Festival of Sport (FoW) took place in Shanghai last weekend. Brash, loud and invariably crowded, the inaugural event had a very Chinese feel to its organisation and this time around, the global sports giant was hoping for an event that had the same buzz and without the chaos.
Situated on the car parks and astroturf pitches surrounding the Shanghai stadium, things certainly felt neater and more thought-out than what had been predicted and from an accessibility point of view, there certainly didn’t seem to be any problems. Everything was sign posted and there seemed to be a clear line of communication between event organisers and the people coming to see the various events.
The trials of former Chinese Football Association heads Xie Yalong and Nan Yong got underway in separate venues in Liaoning Province along with the trials of four former players with the now-defunct Shanghai International football club (and any other name that it had previously) for bribery.
The trials are the latest in a series of cases that have gone on this year in which former CFA officials, referees and one sports company were convicted and handed severe punishments for their crimes.
Offensive lineman Ed Wang is making an impact with local Chinese students through clinics.
Members of the Sea Dragons worked on tackling maneuvers, ball handling techniques and running drills. China's first and only local all-Chinese American football team, comprised of primary school students in Shanghai, could have just as easily been going through a regular practice. But this time, the young football players were taking their queues from Ed Wang, the Buffalo Bills offensive lineman, and the only player in the NFL with full Chinese ancestry.
At The Buffalo Story Project, Charlotte Hsu profiles Ed Wang Kai (王凯), 23-year-old descent of Chinese Olympians now playing for the Buffalo Bills.
The air inside the Buffalo Bills’ autograph tent was hot and sticky, pregnant with the humidity of late July. This was not where rookie left tackle Ed Wang wanted to be. Nevertheless, he hunched his 320-pound frame over a table and went to work, initialing a football, a sports glove, and a few other items.
An op-ed on how despite the rise in sporting venues throughout China, the country's sports stadiums remain empty once the lights fade and the games conclude.
There is no question that large, global sporting events can help change the image of a city. Governments use the spectacles as a means to redevelop or invest further in a city’s infrastructure. South Africa proposed a nine billion rand — or about 1.7 billion USD — budget on city infrastructure projects for next year’s World Cup. According to the Beijing Organizing Committee, the 2008 Olympic Games saw about 60 billion USD invested in city-wide infrastructure projects, which included new stadium venues for the sporting events.
To most of Chinese I know, American football is difficult and distant. At Shanghai Scrap, Adam Minter interviews Zhang Nan, Monday Night Football’s play-by-play man in China, who tries his best to engage more Chinese into the sport.
Sure, the NFL has a small audience in China (roughly 20,000 viewers watch the weekly simulcast), but Zhang – as the play-by-play man – has a key role in helping the NFL expand it. And in doing so, it’s partly his responsibility to figure out a way to translate this most American of sports to a Chinese audience that has almost no knowledge or experience with it. The challenge is technical, cultural, and linguistic, and on Wednesday afternoon I spoke to Zhang (to the right of his broadcast partner, Guo Aibing, in the photo below) about how he handles the responsibilities.
“Steve” Yue Wang’s eyes light up when you talk football. He doesn’t have any favorite players or memorable moments, either from watching or playing. He can’t rattle off any statistics. He’s never really played the game. These are all things the average American has done if they’re into football.
But Wang isn’t American. He just knows he enjoys football.
“I know the game of soccer, but it isn’t worth it anymore,” says Wang. “I am tired of playing [soccer]. Football is so new, and it is just different.”
The year of 2008 is by all means an extraordinary year for Chinese sports, not merely because the country's performance in the Beijing Olympics, there're actually so much more interesting things beyond that if we comb back closely, either about its sports administration and regime, or some government policies that may shape the sector in the future.
This is actually the second cancellation of the NFL China game this year. The 2008 game, which scheduled for August 9 between New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, was called off by NFL this April, with the reason that they wanted to concentrate their "global resources" on next October's regular season game in London.
NFL China has been concentrating on developing grassroots fans in local colleges by staging various events and also marketing themselves on TV and the Internet. Chinese fans can now watch games on CCTV and Shanghai TV, and a live game is also available once a week on Sina.com, a major Chinese web portal.