Brave New World for Athletes

The article I found is about the change in the culture of athletic training in China. It uses Tsinghua University as the model for the change and interviews several people from the university including someone on the fencing team. The previous model of state training for sports is brought under fire for several high profile athletes being left ill-prepared for life after competition. It then goes on to examine how Tsinghua is incorporating a student-athlete model that sounds in many ways like that on current American universities. Something that seems to be newly accepted by Chinese sports culture. The competition in getting university athletics recognized at the same level as state run sports schools is also covered in the article and provides an interesting insight in how the government is involved in directly shaping this aspect of Chinese culture. A shift in mentality towards athletic training seems to be occurring, and the article seems to suggest that the student athlete model typified by Tsinghua will win out.

All This has led me to thinking about perhaps redirecting my focus a little towards the relationship between athletics and academics and the role the former plays in students’ lives.  As I’ve been doing research, trying to find news articles and various other sources of information on fencing in China, I’ve only been able to find a little bit more than just discussion on China’s Olympic prospects and previous performances. As a result, I think using fencing to study some aspect of recreation in Chinese culture, especially in the lives of students, might be more rewarding then just fencing in a Chinese context.  Maybe directly looking at the changes in sports culture in relation to universities might be something worth looking into itself. The comment by one of the people interviewed in the article, Yu Fen, also makes me think that it might be interesting to study the competition between the old system of athletic training using provincial sports academies and the new growing one of university sports programs. Which direction I go with I think really depends on the type and quantity of information I turn up related to each of these areas. It also I think will depend somewhat at least on what kind of opportunities seem to present themselves once in China.

This article does make me think that I’m in a really good position to be able to study some aspects of these phenomena though and makes me more confident in the area I decided to center my project around. It also I think has provided an excellent launching off point for my continued research and brought up some interesting possibilities I hadn’t considered before. The article is slightly out of date seeing that it was written before the Beijing Olympic Games but I think it definitely provides a good background and frame of reference to compare my own experiences too once I arrive in China.