Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
This whole adventure came about as an idea to introduce students to the Olympic Games, which made all the more sense since I spent 16 years with the US Olympic Committee, the last six as its director of international relations. Still, not knowing what level of interest there might be, I emailed a flyer in late fall 2007 to all students on campus, informing them of this "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity . . . and to my delight the response was swift and overwhelming!
While this trip would not have been possible without the help of so many people, I am especially grateful to my colleague and Management Department chair, Dr. Jeanie Forray -- who is a staunch proponent and veteran of many foreign-travel study courses -- for her insight and guidance from the conceptual beginning through the planning stages and beyond. I thank my friend and colleague, Dr. Bruce Clemens -- who has taken scores of students to Guatemala over many summers -- for his inspiration through his can-do attitude and infectious enthusiasm, and also Sport Management Department chair, Dr. Sharianne Walker, for her tireless devotion to our students, her unwavering personal support, and for always reminding me of the importance of having fun along the way!
Originally, I had intended to take a small group of only eight students, which subsequently grew to ten, then 12, before I finally settled on a baker's dozen . . . all of whom are visa-approved and passport ready! This past spring, we met about a half dozen times for students to get acquainted with one another, to meet the representatives from International Study Programs (the outfit that set up the cultural aspects of our trip), to discuss fund-raising ideas, and generally to get hyped up about going to the Olympics . . . in China!
Among the reasons cited by students for wanting to go on this trip were:
“Being exposed to one of the greatest events in history”
“Experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”
“Gaining a knowledge of different cultures”
“Building my resume while growing as a person"
“Learning about the Chinese culture and seeing the Olympics live”
“To learn, meet new people, and have fun”
Speaking of seeing the Olympics live, one early challenge was getting tickets to events, since the entire inventory available for the US market was sold out more than a year in advance of the games. Not to be deterred, however (and resorting to methods that shall not be disclosed), we managed to obtain tickets to basketball, track & field, soccer, boxing, beach volleyball, tennis, softball, baseball, badminton, and water polo.
Of course, we will take in the must-see cultural icons of the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace. Students also will have time to shop, walk through some of the city's fast-disappearing hutongs, pay a visit to the US Embassy, sample exotic delicacies rarely found in the West, and meet with fellow college students at Beijing Sports University. The real value-added proposition of this program, however, is that the students will have the opportunity to experience several out-of-the-ordinary events; for example, having a private audience with the presidents of the international sport federations for baseball and softball, being co-opted to "work" a private reception and awards presentation ceremony of the Truce Foundation at USA House, visiting the US Olympic Committee's high-performance training facility at Beijing Normal University, attending an invitation-only function at Japan House, visiting the by-invitation-only Visa Olympic Reunion Center, getting a cook's tour of the Olympics' Main Press Center, meeting the head of the sports department of the Xinhua News Agency, and being briefed by officials of Olympic sponsors Samsung and Adidas, among other possibilities.
Probably most fascinating for the students will be the chance to spend eight days in this most ancient of Asian countries, with a very different political -- yet quite familiar capitalist -- system, in a city of some 16 million people being descended upon by hundreds of thousands of visitors from every nation on the planet. It also will be interesting to see how successful the organizers' best-laid plans are in terms of games management, operations, and logistics, dealing with protest demonstrations, and the impact of the air quality on athletes' performance. No doubt, social commentators and historians will let us know whether -- and if so to what extent -- the Olympics changed China.
Speaking for myself, it will be an extraordinary treat to witness what certainly will be a watershed moment in China's history. Stay tuned . . . .
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
A Brazilian investment company that trades in that country's soccer-rich talent -- appropriately called Traffic -- signs players to its stable and then loans them out to Brazilian clubs that pay their salaries and exhibit their skills. The payoff comes when the players are recruited by European clubs, which could pay millions -- and even tens of millions -- of dollars in transfer fees. The problem with this model is roster instability because the Brazilian clubs cannot control the players' longevity with their teams, and also creates the potential for collusion, because the investment firm could strengthen or weaken clubs simply by reassigning players. Still unanswered is whether these investment firms run afoul of soccer rules prohibiting third-party ownership. But for the moment, this model is working for Brazilian soccer, because most clubs cannot afford to carry the full burden of acquisition costs, salaries, and bonuses that they would otherwise incur.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
France's biggest sporting event of the year -- the Tour de France -- has been in progress since July 5 and will continue through July 27, and the good news, despite continuing incidents of doping that have plagued the Tour for many years (including yesterday's report of Manuel Beltran's positive test for EPO), is that corporate sponsorship is making a cautious comeback. The black eye of doping undoubtedly contributed to companies like T-Mobile and The Discovery Channel opting out after the last season. Recently, however, Columbia Sportswear and GPS maker Garmin International have signed on to be title sponsors of separate U.S. teams. Cycling's doping problem presents a calculated risk but ironically, a possibly attractive proposition for would-be sponsors. Title sponsorships, which reportedly have gone for anywhere between $3-$9 million, seemingly could be had for bargain right now. Columbia president and CEO Tim Boyle said "Now we could afford it. Maybe a year ago, we couldn't."
Friday, July 11, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
PRC Founded: October 1, 1949
Land Mass: 3.7 million square miles (fourth in size, after Russia, Canada, and US)
Border Countries: Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan
Per Capita Income: $1,251
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, and other dialects
Currency: Yuan (CNY), currently trading at approximately $0.145 (or $1 = 6.86 CNY)
China Population: 1.3 billion
Beijing Population: 16.3 million
No. Cars in Beijing: 3.3 million
No. Athletes: 10,500
No. Athletes and Officials in Olympic Village: 16,000
No. Participating Countries/Territories: 205
No. Accredited Journalists: 21,600
No. Tickets Sold: 7 million
Seating Capacity of National Olympic Stadium (“Bird’s Nest”): 91,000
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008