Why American Football in China?
China’s rapid development has left numerous questions about the need for social cohesion, the role of other cultures in China, and its connection to the rest of the world. Most noticeably, Chinese are increasingly identifying and taking on new hobbies, sports, and pastimes outside of what many believe to be traditionally Chinese. Younger generations of Chinese are becoming the architects of their own future, deciding which destinies and dreams they will pursue in their lifetime. For some of these individuals, this dream involves American football.
Pioneers of football in China need people who can help to facilitate a positive and sustainable approach to their efforts and support the demands of a fast developing sport in China.
There is arguably no better topic from which to start a conversation with an American than football—almost everyone in the United States has played, watched, or been involved in the sport. As a means of connection, GLF Fellows gain the opportunity to share their passion for the sport that has shaped their life, while also gaining invaluable lessons about Chinese culture, society, and history through the lens of their team in China. In turn, impassioned local players have the unique opportunity to learn from athletes with professional experience from the highest levels of the field.
At times, our political history and policy differences cloud our ability to recognize the many values that China and the US share. Pushing back on perceived value differences between China and the US is one aim of the program.
Enhancing the student-athlete experience
The current NCAA athletics model admittedly faces a tough balancing act between cultivating athletic prowess and shaping young men and women into well-rounded adults possessing the necessary tools to succeed in their careers after the sport. Players entering most major NCAA football programs oftentimes lean on one side at the expense of the other, resulting in lack of focus on the holistic wellness and education of student-athletes. By all accounts, it is increasingly more difficult for these young individuals to be both students and athletes, creating more rigid identities and increasing the difficulty of transitioning into other professions.
There is no doubt that student-athletes benefit their alma maters tremendously, financially and in terms of morale. It can also be conceded that athletes benefit from the tremendous resources that the world’s . The question turns on what experience and long-term benefits can student-athletes receive in return.
GLF aims to encourage these model players to expand their worldview and broaden their professional horizons subsequent to a dedicated sports career. The GLF program offers an opportunity for institutions and student athletes to be at the forefront of an increasingly globalized world.
Promoting leadership through sport
“From what I’ve seen, positive, life – changing leadership is an acquired trait, learned from interaction with others who know how to lead and lead well. Leadership is not an innate, mystical gift; rather, it is a learned ability to influence the attitudes and behavior of others. As such, we can all learn – and then teach other – show to understand and apply the principles of successful leadership.”
The Mentor Leader – Tony Dungy
GLF Fellows are pushed to further develop their ability to lead by being placed into a position of grassroots leadership. Teams that Fellows are paired with have various organizational and management needs that are unique to managing a Chinese team and not always intuitive. Fellows will need to work to understand the needs of that organization, level of commitment, and the most effective approach to accomplish organization goals. The goal of promoting leadership is to work cooperatively with team leaders to inspire the best in each individual and the club organization.
The Fellow’s role in China is not to preach the gospel of football, but to exhibit and promote the virtues of leadership in various forms. GLF Fellows have the opportunity to better the lives of communities they work with through the day-to-day, moment-to-moment influence and impact they will have on their teams’ lives.
The Host Coach engagement and local leadership strategy augments the likelihood of success for GLF Fellows and local football partners by emphasizing the importance of preparing local teams for future success. Host Coaches serve as local cultural ambassadors and guides of their cities, country, and culture, and as the first and main point of contact between GLF Fellows and their local team. Alongside our GLF Fellows, Host Coaches share the desire for greater cross-cultural understanding and a deep love for the sport.