Monday, June 30, 2008

Shaq is from Leominster, MA (west of Boston), and counting the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, China will be his second international trip. A lover of music and dancing, Shaq is a DJ at WNEK-FM. Shaq practices martial arts, and is particularly interested in seeing wushu (Chinese martial art) demonstrations while in Beijing.
Jake is from Plymouth, NH, and going to the Olympics is a dream-come-true. Having been to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jake is interested in seeing and experiencing a different country and culture in China. Jake's motto is "if it's meat, I'll eat it," so we will put that to the test every day in Wangfujing Snack Street near our hotel!
Most people do not know that Bre, who is from Amherst, NH, is a twin sister (whaaaat?!). Her greatest fear on this trip is that she will get lost (memo to Jenn: do not buddy up with Bre!), but she is anxious to experience both a new culture and the Olympics. This will be Bre's second foreign trip, after Bermuda.
Ashley is from South Hadley, MA, and will be making her first trip abroad . . . to Beijing, China! As a political science major, Ashley is particularly interested in the role of the Chinese government in the organization of these Olympic Games. A closet cut up, Ashley is expected to keep the group entertained with her jokes based on famous Chinese fortune-cookie sayings!
Jess has been to the UK and Ireland, and can't wait to visit China to personally witness the Olympics, which she has been watching on TV since childhood. Jess is from Bethlehem, CT (west of Hartford), loves to cook and eat, and says she will try almost anything . . . so we will see if that includes starfish, seahorse, and cicada!
AJ has been in Beijing since June 6, doing an internship with Club Football Ltd, a grassroots soccer program for adults and juniors. In his spare time, AJ is studying Mandarin so that he can order our meals when we get to China! He is from Northboro, MA, and has visited Canada, which he reports is quite different from China!
Rob loves to play sports and is anxious to see the best athletes in the world at the Olympic Games. Rob is from Saugerties, NY (south of Albany), and is looking forward to adding China to his list of foreign destinations outside of Canada, as he begins his campaign to see the world and learn about different cultures.
Since visiting France, Whitney caught the travel bug and now wants to see the the rest of the world. Even though she believes going to the Olympics in China will be an amazing experience, Whitney is a bit nervous about the plane ride over to Beijing. Whitney is from East Falmouth, MA, or simply "the Cape," as they say in New England.
Mike is from Colonia, NJ, and has for many years wanted to go to the Olympic Games. Having previously traveled to Canada, Mike is eager to venture beyond North America, and is ready to experience China's culture and the excitement of the Olympics. Mike's next big event on his to-do list is to attend a Super Bowl.
Amanda is from Stamford, CT (also home to other notable people such as Benny Goodman, Bob Crane, Christopher Lloyd, and Bobby Valentine), and is anxious to experience the Olympic Games and China up close and personal. She has been to Mexico and Aruba, and hopes to get a job that will allow her to travel the world.
Lauren has been to Italy, Germany, and Costa Rica, and with the addition of China, will be well on her way to achieving her travel goal of visiting every continent. She is from Wolcott, CT (west of Hartford), and is passionate about travel, soccer, and food (though not necessarily in that order!).
Marti is a veteran globetrotter, having traveled to France, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, and Israel; and being from the Philly area, she is a big-time fan of the NHL Flyers. Since she is a prolific texter, Marti volunteered to head up the student BOG (Beijing Olympic Games) blog!
Jenn has traveled to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia, and is excited to add a fourth country to her passport! Her greatest fear about going to the Olympics is that she might get lost among Beijing's 15+ million people, all the while not being able to speak Mandarin! Jenn is from Rensselaer, NY (near Albany).

Cool People

This next series of posts will introduce readers to the group of eager learners and intrepid travelers to the Beijing Olympics, who signed up for this seminar abroad program last fall and filled the roster within days of the announcement. Although competition tickets have been sold out for US tourists for nearly a year, we managed to score tickets to soccer, track & field, beach volleyball, tennis, softball, boxing, basketball, baseball, water polo, and badminton. In addition, we will visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and Great Wall of China, as well as meet with top officials of sport, business, government, and academia throughout our eight days in China.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nike vs. Adidas

Reminiscent of the cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the titans of sports footwear, Nike and Adidas, have been waging a high-stakes campaign in China against the backdrop of the coming Olympic Games. While Adidas is an Olympic Games sponsor and Nike is not, they appear evenly matched with some 3,000 stores each throughout the country. The leading athletic shoemakers are pitted in a marketing frenzy to gain a stronger foothold (no pun intended!) in China and a greater share of the $27.5 billion industry. Combined, Nike and Adidas account for nearly 60% of the worldwide athletic footwear market, though Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning (see previous blog) and Italian shoemaker, Geox (see article, below), among others, are throwing their pebbles in the pond in hopes of generating something of a ripple. Question: do you think Adidas' Olympic sponsorship gives it an edge in this latest battle in the global shoe war?


Friday, June 27, 2008

Hosting the Olympics: Investment or Insanity?

A recent Worth Magazine article ("Fool's Gold," 3/1/08) asserted that at a whopping $34 billion, this summer's Olympics in Beijing "are going to be the most expensive games in history." To put this in perspective, the most recent Olympic Games just four years ago in Athens -- with its massive cost overruns and security expense -- carried a then-hefty price tag of $8 billion, while the last summer games in the U.S. (Atlanta in 1996), came in at a mere $1.8 billion. Of course, the paradigm shift attributable to the events of 9/11 has driven some of the budget inflation, such that the security line item alone for the 2004 Athens Olympics was pegged at $1.5 billion. But with the uncertain economic return on investment, why is it that Beijing in 2008 and other cities at other times trip over themselves to pay exorbitant sums for the "privilege" of hosting an Olympics or even a World Cup?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Olympic "Ambush" Marketing: Fair or Foul?

Today's Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese sportswear company Li Ning, which is not an Olympic sponsor but which has an exclusive contract to outfit sportscasters of China's CCTV (broadcaster of the Olympics in China), withdrew a provision in its agreement that would have seen the company's logo -- a stylized "L" -- prominently displayed on apparel worn by sportcasters during studio broadcasts. Olympic officials jealously guard the intellectual property rights of official sponsors and publicly scorn companies that seek to benefit by implying a relationship to the Olympics, a tactic known as ambush marketing. With worldwide Olympic sponsorships approaching $100 million for the next four-year period, however, it is no surprise that some companies that are unwilling or unable to fork over the price of admission still try to piggyback on the marketing juggernaut that is the Olympic Games. So the question is whether these so-called ambushers are ethically challenged or simply entrepreneurial in their outlook.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Golden Bear

I should mention that we will be taking our mascot to China with us! Here's "Golden Bear" in its cozy backpack perch, from where it will take in all the sights, sounds, and aromas of Beijing's attractions, traffic, people, restaurants, and more!

Delegation Roster

I will post more about each student later, but for now . . . here's the crew:

JENN ASHLEY, Rensselaer, NY
MARTI BLUM, Huntingdon Valley, PA
ROB HORTON, Saugerties, NY
AJ PAPPAS, Northboro, MA
JAKE ROY, Plymouth, NH

Seminar Abroad '08

This summer, my faculty colleague, Dr. Dan Covell, and I will be taking a group of 13 Western New England College students to Beijing August 8-17 during the Olympic Games, which undoubtedly will be an experience-of-a-lifetime. I am looking forward to seeing some of my friends from the international sporting community (I was the director of International Relations for the US Olympic Committee from 2000 to 2006), and I know our students are giddy with excitement about going to the Olympics, seeing some of China's ancient and iconic cultural attractions, and sampling exotic Chinese cuisine . . . perhaps even daring to try scorpion-on-a-stick!