While the sport industry in many industrialized nations is a fully conceived business, the market in China is just beginning to realize its potential.
Right now, says Thomas A. Baker III, an associate professor in the sport management and policy program in the Department of Kinesiology, the Chinese government is putting a lot of money into building and developing policies and frameworks. This is why a new partnership he formed with China's Southwest University of Finance and Economics is well timed, offering a unique opportunity for both University of Georgia students as well as Chinese scholars.
This collaboration adds an innovative new research aspect to the department's International Center for Sport Management, a lab that hosts scholars from around the world and shares knowledge about new developments in sport management. It also positions UGA with a Chinese university that is seeking guidance as it develops its own sport management program.
"We call it SEL—Sport Economics and Law," says Baker, of the new research partnership formed with a colleague at Southwest University of Finance and Economics. "It's a consortium—a research partnership. They approach this from the economic perspective and we cover it from the sports perspective, and we look at the ways they converge and merge."
In the past year, two visiting scholars spent time at the University of Georgia, taking classes, conducting research, and attending lectures. This fall, four new Chinese scholars will have a presence on campus, including the researcher who helped Baker launch the partnership. Baker says the universities will collaborate on different sport-related research projects, with visiting scholars assisting with data collection. One article has already been published, with another in the works. This partnership helps fill a large gap in China, which is in need of research to guide its rapidly developing sports economy. This is also a way for UGA to extend its brand into the emerging market and be a major force in how laws and guidelines are developed.
"Chinese visiting scholars come here because they need the training they can't get in China; they will go back and transform the market, so we need to help train scholars who will be future leaders," says Baker. "There's an incredible need for both research and student training to work in the business of sport in China. It's the fastest-growing sport market—the sport market that probably has the most growth potential (in the world)."
It's also one more way the UGA program reinforces its international focus, exposing undergraduate and graduate students to the world of sport management, promotion, and law. "A wonderful byproduct of this partnership is that we can bring the world into our classrooms and expand the thinking of our students so they realize, when they go to work in this industry, that it truly is an international industry," adds Baker.
Related links: Department of Kinesiology