Basketball in International Relations

晚上好, Good evening!

The countdown is now at 20 hours – I fly out on a direct flight from Montreal to Shanghai mid-day tomorrow! I’m spending my final day in Montreal doing last-minute preparations, and organizing different interviews for my time in Shanghai and Beijing. As I mentioned in my previous post, I just spent a few days in New York City for some meetings, and I’m happy to report that they went really well. I got a tour of the NBA offices and met the personnel from the International Business Operations team that I will be working with at the camp in Hangzhou. They were all extremely welcoming, and I’m so excited to be working with them! I was fascinated to hear more about the NBA’s growing international presence, as well as their ability to have an impact in a variety of different markets. The latter aspect of the league is especially intriguing to me, since it is safe to say that while it is a global sport, there are differences in the game between countries. I’m excited to get to China to learn even more about basketball in the country, as well as explore the ways that different entities, including the NBA and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), have worked to improve the game in recent years.

I’m also proud to report that bits and pieces of this blog will be posted onto the Brown University Athletics webpage with the help of our women’s basketball athletic communications assistant, Nick Dow (thanks Nick!). It is my hope that I can help open the world of global sport to others, as well as offer some insight on the key role of sports in international relations. In the past, the topic was often disregarded, but because of its popularity across the globe, sports have recently played a significant role in international relations, both on a social and political level. In fact, athletics are now inextricably intertwined with world politics, national pride, international prestige.

I recently spoke to Tommy Amaker, Harvard Men’s Basketball Head Coach, about his team’s week-long trip to China to play Stanford at the very beginning of their 2016-2017 season. The trip was a part of the recent Pac-12 initiative to promote its conference and the game of basketball in China, which you can read more about. In fact, at the start of the past two seasons, a Pac-12 Men’s Basketball team has headed to China to not only tip off against another American college, but also to contribute to the international college sports diplomacy. Additionally, the educational component of the proposal is not to be overlooked. Sponsored mainly by the Pac-12 and Alibaba Group, the initiative is structured to not only showcase the two colleges’ brands in China, but also to further demonstrate that achieving success both in competition and in the classroom are not mutually exclusive. Coach Amaker indeed emphasized the fact that his players were there as Harvard students, and that their presence in China was not for the sole purpose of playing basketball, but also to help with the initiative that was instituted to help break down certain barriers. As representatives of two of the best schools in North America, Coach Amaker felt that his team was inspiring those around them. “The goal is to go as far as one can academically – you could feel and hear that they [the Chinese fans] wanted that for their children.” More and more, sports are being used as an entrée for people from different cultures to interact, and I look forward to witnessing that first-hand within the next few weeks.

I’ll be in Shanghai next time you hear from me! Can’t wait!!

Please reach out to me if you would like this translated into French.

S’il-vous-plaît contactez moi si vous voulez ce texte traduit en Français.